According to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, most wild kangaroos prefer to use their left hands for completing common tasks. According to the researchers, this is the first time population-level handedness is demonstrated in any animal species besides the human beings. The scientists have come to this conclusion after observing multiple species.
The left handed trend has been observed in a two species of roo and one variety of wallaby. However, a few other marsupials that walk on all four limbs didn’t showcase the trend.
The said study has been carried out by a team of Russian researchers representing the St. Petersburg State University. The team traveled to Australia for performing the necessary fieldwork.
In Australia, the Russian scientists worked in collaboration with wildlife ecologist Janeane Ingram. Ingram is a PhD student at the University of Tasmania.
When speaking about this study on kangaroos, Ingram informed that their work had to face a lot of skepticism. She said that even her colleagues believe that there’s nothing serious about studying the left-handed macropods. Ingram, however, believes that any study presenting evidence of true handedness of a bipedal species besides the human beings has the potential of contributing significantly to studies on mammalian evolution and brain symmetry.
Dr. Yegor Malashichev, one of the senior authors of the study, said that most people used to believe that handedness is exclusively a human phenomenon until studies conducted in the past two decades revealed that asymmetry in brain structure and behavior is surprisingly widespread.
However, before this study, scientists could only find enough evidence to demonstrate that right or left handedness can be specific to particular behaviors; they couldn’t prove that handedness can be consistent across an entire population. This makes this new study by Russian scientists extremely significant.
During this new study, scientists observed a consistent left-handed trend among species such as eastern grey kangaroos, red-necked wallabies and red kangaroos. The trend was evident irrespective of whether the kangaroos were feeding, grooming or trying to prop themselves up.
These observations, according to Dr. Malashichev, confirm that the humans are not the only ones on this planet to showcase preference towards a particular hand when it comes to performing common tasks.