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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Human Handedness Is for the Birds
1 February 2011 7:01 pm
Whether you're a righty or a lefty, parrots may be able to tell us why we've come to prefer one hand over the other. In a series of experiments, researchers watched as 322 parrots from 16 different species attempted to grab an object—a toy or a piece of food—with their feet. Since the birds' eyes are on the sides of their heads, they can't look straight ahead like we do; instead, they have to cock their heads to one side. But like us, individual parrots show a strong preference for one limb or the other: The researchers noticed that a "left-handed" bird would cock its head to the right to give its left eye a better view. It would then grab the object with its left foot, probably because this was the easier foot for the left eye to track. If early animals had eyes on the sides of their heads like birds do, their need to use either one eye or another to grasp objects may have led to the evolution of handedness, the researchers suggest online today in Biology Letters.
See more ScienceShots.