Scientists have found some interesting answers on human evolution from a cadaver.
Scientists used the hands of a cadaver to slap and punch things in order to figure out how we evolved our current hand shape, including the ability to make a fist.
The study was controversial, with many researchers criticizing the methodology, but University of Utah biologist David Carrier believes the research has unique insights into the evolution of the human hand, according to a Washington Post report.
He used fishing line and guitar tuners to string up the dead body’s arms for his study, working off the hypothesis that ancient fights helped shape the human hand today.
It was actually because of research he did on sperm whale foreheads that he came to study the human fist. Carrier was claiming that the foreheads evolved as battering rams for males competing for sexual dominance, but his friend didn’t buy it and argued with him to the point they were both yelling, according to the report.
“At one point, to illustrate the point he was trying to communicate, he held his fist up in front of my face and said ‘I can hit you in the face with this, but that’s not why it evolved!’ And I thought hey, maybe it did,” he told the Post.
Carrier has gone on to published a few papers on the evolution of the body, with his thesis centered on the human hand. He noted that we are the only primate that can make a fist, and that the human face may even have evolved to better take a punch.
Not all researchers are impressed. One blogger called Carrier an advocate of “bro science” for believing that people fighting could cause evolution. The more traditional explanation for fist evolution is so that humans could hold tools, something that Carrier acknowledged was pretty sensible, but he insisted that perhaps the fighting aspect was another component to our evolution.
His findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
The University of Utah published a press release regarding its findings, which can be found here.