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Scientists think they’ve worked out why some people are left-handed

Joe Harker

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| Last updated 

Scientists think they’ve worked out why some people are left-handed

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Photos

Happy International Lefthanders Day!

Yes my fellow lefties, come one and all to the one day of the year where we get to celebrate our unique and wonderful existence in this world run by tyrannical regime of the right-handers.

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Most of the tools, implements and pretty much everything in the world is designed for their convenience. Remember the days of us having our own special pairs of scissors at school that there were never enough of?

With only about one in 10 people around the world being left-handed, we're severely underrepresented in society, though we can boast some famous lefties to call our own.

Let's make the most of this day and aim for a future where new generations of lefties no longer have to hope the classroom stationery cupboard has the special left-handed scissors.

Meanwhile, you might be wondering just exactly what causes a person to be left-handed in the first place, especially since you might reckon a thing like this ought to be a 50-50 chance when it's actually just one in 10.

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Left handers sometimes have an advantage in sports where they can bring the unorthodox to the table. Credit: Getty Stock Photo
Left handers sometimes have an advantage in sports where they can bring the unorthodox to the table. Credit: Getty Stock Photo

According to IFL Science, researchers have found that previous assumptions that being left-handed was due to genetics might have turned out to be wrong.

Studies on the existence of us left-handed folk have found that our dominant hand is likely determined before we're even born, as from 13 weeks onwards babies in the womb show a preference for sucking one thumb over the other.

Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands and South Africa found that genetic activity in a baby's spinal cord was asymmetrical while in the womb, potentially meaning the unborn child is already choosing a dominant hand.

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Interestingly, this happens before the part of the brain that controls hand movements - the motor cortex - connects to the spinal cord as the fetus develops. This means being left-handed likely isn't determined by the brain.

However, that still doesn't tell us why left-handed people are so rare in the world.

Only lefties really know the struggle of writing something and trying not to immediately smudge it. Credit: Getty Stock Photo
Only lefties really know the struggle of writing something and trying not to immediately smudge it. Credit: Getty Stock Photo

This has been a question scientists have long grappled with in the hopes of figuring out why one in 10 people are left-handed.

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Some theories reckon we've evolved to have more right-handed people because it helps us co-operate with other people better.

Others have been studying other species which have one side dominant over the other, such as birds preferring a certain side depending on how they rested in their eggs.

Still, the topic continues to be a fuzzy one as far as science is concerned, in part because there's not that many left-handed people who can be part of scientific research into this.

Perhaps one day we'll find the definitive answer as to why so few people are left-handed, for now let's learn to love lefties.

Topics: News, Weird, Science

Joe Harker
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