Science News

Shoulder Shape Suggests Human Ancestors Shared The Trees With Chimpanzees, Researchers Say

Researchers concluded a long time ago that chimpanzees are mankind’s closest living relative, and that the human lineage branched off from chimpanzees around six or seven million years ago.

More recent research has determined that the last mutual ancestors of both humans and chimpanzees may have had shoulders that were comparable to those of modern African Apes.  Findings support the idea that early humans may have been tree dwellers that gradually shifted out of the trees as they learned to utilize different tools and became more earthbound.

The study, along with future studies and findings, could help researchers to learn more about the familial state of the human shoulder and could also be the key to comprehending human evolution because the shoulder, according to LiveScience, has been connected to many important changes in behavior for humans.

Understanding the evolution of the human shoulder could help researchers to determine when humans began using tools more, when they starting spending more time on the ground and even when they learned to throw and hunt with weapons. Researchers could also use the information to help determine what the last common ancestors may have really looked like, as some studies have led them to believe that the earliest human ancestors resembled modern African apes such as chimpanzees and gorillas, while another scenario could be that human ancestors looked more like orangutans, which are tree-swinging Asian apes.

The information could also be helpful in understanding why some people are better at doing things like throwing fastballs or lifting and why certain people are more prone to developing arthritis or other shoulder injuries. The information scientists gather from their research about the ancestral state of the human shoulder could predict if a person would could have a higher likelihood of injury, and could possibly even be used to develop personalized exercise regimens that could prevent the injuries.

Researchers hope that their research can one day help medical professionals diagnose and possibly prevent shoulder injuries long before they happen, just by collecting a patient’s DNA.

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