WTF Fun Fact 13489 – Most Orangutans are Left Handed

If you’re a lefty, you have more in common with an orangutan than just 97% of your DNA since most orangutans are left-handed too. One neuroscientist, Bill Hopkins, said his research showed around 66% of orangutans to be lefties.

Studying Handedness in Orangutans

Curiosity sparked the investigation into orangutan handedness. Scientists found themselves wondering – do these creatures prefer one hand over the other, like us humans? It’s something we’ve all thought about, right? No? Ok, well anyway.

Researchers observed orangutans in their natural and semi-natural habitats. Hopkins appears to be the only one who suggested the specific 66% number. But plenty of other research has found that while some primates like chimpanzees and bonobos (our closest relatives) tend to be right-hand dominant, gorillas and orangutans are not.

What Does it Mean that Most Orangutans are Left-Handed?

Just like in humans, an orangutan’s hand preference comes from the brain. We call it “cerebral lateralization” – a fancy term for one side of the brain being bossier than the other.

The left hemisphere controls right-handedness, and the right hemisphere oversees left-handedness. Both genes and environment play a part in this.

But a mystery remains. Why do orangutans tend to be left-handed more often when compared to humans and other great apes?

Out in the wild, being left-handed doesn’t make the orangutans any less skillful. They foraged for food, made comfy nests, and swung from tree to tree with aplomb. Whether peeling fruit or brachiating through the forest, left-handed orangutans showed no signs of struggle.

Now here’s an intriguing question. We humans share 97% of our DNA with orangutans, so why aren’t more of us left-handed? Researchers are keen on finding an answer. They hope to understand how and why hand preference might have shifted during human evolution.

Orangutans, like us, are social animals. They have a rich array of communication methods at their disposal. This research is igniting interest in the connection between left-handedness and communication. Also, it has made scientists curious about the potential link between hand preference and cognitive abilities.

A Curious Conclusion

The higher percentage of left-handedness in orangutans adds an exciting twist to our understanding of these creatures. It opens up a new avenue for exploration: Why this hand preference? How does it affect their survival, adaptation, and mental prowess?

Researchers are now actively trying to link left-handedness to the species’ behavior and neural traits. They’re also excited to understand how this discovery could shape our understanding of human evolution.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Do Other Animals Show Handedness?” — Science Friday

WTF Fun Fact 12905 – Monkey Blamed for Fake 911 Calls

It’s illegal to make fake 911 calls, so the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office tried to track down the culprit of a recent dial-in. They also wanted to make sure no one need their help on the end of the suddenly disconnected call. The tracked the phone down to the “Zoo To You” near Paso Robles and deduced that it was likely a Capuchin monkey that made the call.

Finding the source of the call

Dispatchers tried to call and text back when the call first came in. Then they sent in the police, only to find that no human on the premesis had any idea what they were talking about.

The call came from a cell phone that was left in a golf cart used on the property.

They finally deduced that a Capuchin monkey named Route had apparently picked up the zoo’s cellphone, which was in a golf cart used to move about the property.

In a Facebook post, they recounted the story:

“Our Deputies have seen their fair share of “monkey business” in the County. But nothing quite like this.
It all started Saturday night when we received a 911 call that had disconnected. Dispatchers tried to call and text back but they received no response. So Deputies were sent to investigate.
The address took them to the offices of Zoo to You near Paso Robles. No one there had placed the call.
Was someone trying to make us look like a monkey’s uncle?
Then they all realized… it must have been Route the Capuchin monkey.
Apparently, Route had picked up the zoo’s cell phone… which was in the zoo’s golf cart… which is used to travel around the zoo’s 40 acre site.
We’re told Capuchin monkeys are very inquisitive and will grab anything and everything and just start pushing buttons.
And that’s what Route did… just so happened it was in the right combination of numbers to call us.
As you can tell from these photos, Route is a little embarrassed by the whole thing. But you can’t really blame her, after all monkey see, monkey do.”

Emergency monkey dial

You’ve no doubt heard of the infinite monkey theroem that posits that a monkey sitting at a typewriter for an infinite amount of time would eventually get around to typing out a full line of Shakespeare.

Abstract statistical metaphors aside, it turns out the a Capuchin with a cell phone and nothing else to do will eventually press 9-1-1-send.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Capuchin Monkey Accused Of Calling 911 From California Zoo” — HuffPost