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Hafted technologies likely reduced stone tool-related selective pressures acting on the hominin hand.

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Mika, Anna 
Lierenz, Julie 
Smith, Andrew 
Buchanan, Briggs 
Walker, Robert S 


The evolution of the hominin hand has been widely linked to the use and production of flaked stone tool technologies. After the earliest handheld flake tools emerged, shifts in hominin hand anatomy allowing for greater force during precision gripping and ease when manipulating objects in-hand are observed in the fossil record. Previous research has demonstrated how biometric traits, such as hand and digit lengths and precision grip strength, impact functional performance and ergonomic relationships when using flake and core technologies. These studies are consistent with the idea that evolutionary selective pressures would have favoured individuals better able to efficiently and effectively produce and use flaked stone tools. After the advent of composite technologies during the Middle Stone Age and Middle Palaeolithic, fossil evidence reveals differences in hand anatomy between populations, but there is minimal evidence for an increase in precision gripping capabilities. Furthermore, there is little research investigating the selective pressures, if any, impacting manual anatomy after the introduction of hafted composite stone technologies ('handles'). Here we investigated the possible influence of tool-user biometric variation on the functional performance of 420 hafted Clovis knife replicas. Our results suggest there to be no statistical relationships between biometric variables and cutting performance. Therefore, we argue that the advent of hafted stone technologies may have acted as a 'performance equaliser' within populations and removed (or reduced) selective pressures favouring forceful precision gripping capabilities, which in turn could have increased the relative importance of cultural evolutionary selective pressures in the determination of a stone tool's performance.



Humans, Animals, Hominidae, Upper Extremity, Hand, Biometry, Cultural Evolution, Influenza, Human

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
National Science Foundation (1649395)
National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award IDs: 1649395, 1649406, 1649409)