Human diversity is a marvelous facet of our species. No two fingerprints are alike and eyes come in a wide spectrum of different shades. The amount of different bodily combinations a person can have is infinite. One truly unique feature is left-handedness. While most people dominantly use their right hand, about 11% of the population are southpaws (or “lefties”) . There is no distinct advantage in either hand, per se. Remarkable baseball pitchers consist of both lefties and righties, and well-known guitarist Jimi Hendrix could play the instrument from each hand. Nevertheless, curious individuals have pondered and hypothesized what distinguishes hand dominance. Research has advanced knowledge in this field, but a lot is still to be learned. Recently, scientists discovered the genome related to left-handed dominance.
The scientific community has extensively researched hand dominance, crossing many milestones. So far, genetics, environment, and a slight bit of chance are the known factors. Genes, information passed from parents to their offspring, is essentially the blueprint for how a person will turn out. As of now, it is estimated that humans have around 21,000 genes in total. They start to take effect as a baby embryo grows inside its mother. In regards to hand preference, “[It] begins to develop before birth. It becomes increasingly apparent in early childhood and tends to be consistent throughout life” (Gizmodo). However, researchers estimate genes are about 25% responsible for which hand we use more. The environment we grow up in also plays a very important role. Decades ago, left-handed people were commonly ostracized and pressured to use their right hand. In addition, unexpected events, such as paralysis or amputation, may force someone to change their hand preference.
A group at Oxford University in the U.K. made new discoveries recently. The team researched 400,000 subjects, about 10% of them being left-handed. They looked into protein genes that build cells and keep them working, finding cell structure to be different in a lefty compared to a righty. In addition, they studied brain structure within people of both hand preferences. According to Dr. Akira Wiberg, a research fellow at the program, “We discovered that, in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more coordinated way. . . but it must be remembered that these differences were only seen as averages over very large numbers of people and not all left-handers will be similar” (Tech Explorist). After further research, another discovery was made between different hand-preference and chances of certain mental illnesses. The team hopes to continue making new discoveries in their research journey.
It is fascinating to see that while we are the same race, we have so many differing features. Some might ponder the point of learning about it, though. As the Psalmist David wrote: “For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:3-5). He created massive galaxies that we have not begun to discover, as well as microscopic features we cannot fully comprehend. Despite all these glorious creations, He put so much creativity and thought into us. Genesis 1:26 accounts that “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;’ ” He put so much care into us, so we should not let any opportunity of knowledge about ourselves go to waste.