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The Speciation of Modern Homo Sapiens$
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T. J. Crow

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263112

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263112.001.0001

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Laterality and Human Speciation

Laterality and Human Speciation

(p.136) (p.137) Laterality and Human Speciation
The Speciation of Modern Homo Sapiens

Michael C. Corballis

British Academy

This chapter describes the relevance of cerebral asymmetry. Although cerebral asymmetries abound in non-human animals, there are still reasons to suppose that there may have been a single-gene mutation producing a ‘dextral’ (D) allele, which created a strong bias toward right-handedness and left-cerebral dominance for language at some point in hominid evolution. The alternative ‘chance’ (C) allele is presumed directionally neutral, although there may be other influences producing weak population manual and cerebral asymmetries in the absence of the D allele. The discussion argues that language evolved from manual gestures, and the D allele may have served to guarantee manual and vocal control in the same (left) hemisphere in the majority of humans. The ‘speciation event’ that distinguished Homo sapiens from other large-brained hominids might be as witch from a predominantly gestural to a vocal form of language.

Keywords:   cerebral asymmetry, left-cerebral dominance, hominid evolution, Homo sapiens, manual gesture, dextral allele

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