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The History of the Lefty

Statistics show that 10% of the modern population is left-handed. Where did left-handedness come from? Why is it only such a small percentage? How long has it been around? I am sure these questions have crossed your mind; so here is a quick history lesson of the southpaw.

According to archaeological research, left-handedness is not a new phenomenon. Nor is right-hand favouritism. Archaeologists have tracked right-handed dominance back 500 000 years. That is, before the modern homo sapien, better known as the modern human being.

The University of Kansas determined this preference through observing the teeth of our Neanderthal cousins.

“These marks were produced when a stone tool was accidentally dragged across the labial face in an activity performed at the front of the mouth,” said researcher David Frayer. “The heavy scoring on some of the teeth indicates the marks were produced over the lifetime of the individual and are not the result of a single cutting episode.”

It seemed that even half a million years ago there has been a right-handed preference.

Looking at the Lefty Population

Approximately 12% of the population are left-handed, and this is not changing anytime soon. In fact, studies show that the occurrence of the southpaw is on the rise.

Distribution and statistics of the left-handed population. Credit: Left Fretz.
Distribution and statistics of the left-handed population. Credit: Left Fretz.

It is clear that the percentage of left-handed varies across the world. This is strongly linked to its history and the bias associated with the favoured writing hand. Only recently have places like North America and Western Europe have taken a more liberal stance on handedness and permitted children to use their naturally dominant hand. Hence their percentage is higher.

In other countries, like Korea and Japan, you will find the lowest percent of lefties, according to Handedness Statistics. This is because children have been primed and forced to use their right hands from a young age.

As more countries are letting the lefty thrive, the more of them there will be. Studies show that there are several benefits to being left-handed, including lower rates of ulcers and arthritis.

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