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Medical Are Animals Right or Left-Handed?

  1. Jul 10, 2005 #1
    I was just curious to know whether most animals are right-handed (as humans are) or are they left-handed. But maybe it could be broke up into mammals, amphibians etc.
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  3. Jul 10, 2005 #2


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    I think most animals would be niether. A dog, for example, rarely seems to use its front legs for anything but walking, and uses both of them equally. Maybee monkeys are left and right handed, though. I don't know, its an interesting question.
  4. Jul 10, 2005 #3


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    Parrots are predominately left-handed, badgers, wolves and bears are all supposedly left-handed. Lobsters are left-clawed.

    Will try and find sources, but for now have a little article:

    http://www.mledger.com/2005/archives/3_column021005.shtml [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017 at 5:35 PM
  5. Jul 10, 2005 #4


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    There does seem to be a side preference with animals, though it can be harder to determine if they don't do things to make it apparent. I've spent a lot of time staring at sheep while they chew their cud and stare back at me, and noticed things like they all seem to rotate their jaw in the same direction as they chew their cud, and have a tendency to turn their head one way more than the other, such as when lying down (this was important when I'd be inserting cannulas into their jugular vein for long term blood sampling or drug delivery; put it on the wrong side, and it gets kinked and becomes useless whenever they lie down...since the purpose was to sample without disturbing them from their normal activities, we needed to ensure we could sample even if the sheep laid down). They also paw the ground to dig a little indentation in their bedding before lying down, so they exhibit "handedness" in doing that, and when mating, both sheep and goats kick up with their forelegs at the flank of a potential mate, and there is usually a side preference in doing that as well (helpful to know when you have to lead away the female a male is trying to mate with to know which side to stand on to avoid getting stuck in the middle and being kicked yourself).
  6. Jul 11, 2005 #5


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    As with humans, I don't think you can lump entire species or other classifications of animals into having one set right or left appendage preference, it most likely varies across a population. In rodents I know that some will turn to one side more often that the other, but within a group you will find individuals that are predominantly right, left or equal turners. While the turning preference may not always correlate with paw preference (Pubmed abst), it does seem to go back to brain lateralization and variations in the distribution of certain neurochemicals. In addition, it appears that hormonal status and sex can also influence turning behavior (Pubmed abst). Sorry if I got too far off the topic, but I think this speaks to how something apparently simple like handedness can get rather complicated when examined from several angles.
  7. Jul 11, 2005 #6


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    :rofl: LOL.. fell out my chair, on that one... :rofl:

    Fish also exhibit side preference. The http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/education/flounder/flounder.html [Broken] are right-eyed. There is no particular advantage of left versus right side preference. The side where both eyes have migrated are also darker pigmented and provide good camouflage. This is a neat adaptation to make them less conspicuous to both predators and prey.

    I have stumbled upon some these guys, in my diving adventures and barely noticed their presence until I was right on top of them. Here is a cool http://www.njscuba.net/biology/sw_fish_flounders.html [Broken] that illustrates how effective they are at camouflage as well as showing their sidedness.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017 at 5:37 PM
  8. Jul 17, 2005 #7


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    Polar bears are known to be predominantly left handed
  9. Jul 17, 2005 #8
    Depends. Do they have hands?
  10. Jul 17, 2005 #9
    my dog is right pawed. She uses it to open doors, and to get the last little crunchey out of her bowl. It is also the first paw she touchs water with{like the lake} and her lead paw when she runs.
  11. Jul 19, 2005 #10
    I am in heaven! I think I have found my place at last. I have looked all over for people wh o are interested in subjects like this. This is the first post showing interest in an item like this that I have found in 5 years on the internet. I think I am going get all choked up. ;)

    There is a something interesting going on here if you pay attention. Aren't scientist supposed to be observant?

    Didn't anyone notice that most of the animals seem to be left handed? Is that significant? In my opinion it is.

    The only outstanding case was a dog who used it's right paw. Is that significant? Yes it is from one point of view.

    None of the observations any of you have made is trivial. Each observation can easily be explained if you have a basic knowledge of how the body works. I find it exciting to say I have never seen anyone publicly discuss the basic knowledge of the body that explains your observations. It is exciting to be at the forefront of anything, don't you agree?

    I think i could tell you stuff that would make you famous in your field. I have never seen a paper or article anywhere talking about this stuff.
  12. Jul 19, 2005 #11
    I recall having read or heard several years ago, that cats are predominantly left-pawed. I tried to observe in the cat that I had at that time, but could never get any indication that would verify or refute it. He seemed just as likely to act one way as the other.

  13. Jul 19, 2005 #12
    There's a physical evidence that the dominance of right-handedness in humans results from the rotation of the Earth. Maybe it is the same with animals as they live on the same planet as us.
  14. Jul 19, 2005 #13


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    i have watched my cat, and she appears to use both paws equally.
  15. Jul 20, 2005 #14


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    I take it you're kidding :biggrin:
    The rotation of the earth is the same, no matter which side we live (unless you were standing on one of the poles). There are still plenty of south-paws out and about (myself included). Estimates of lefties within global population, I've heard as high as 20% and as low as 13%. It also appears to be heritable. Several family members are also left-handed.
  16. Jan 15, 2011 #15
    My cat uses his right paw to bat me on the nose to get me to scratch him under the chin, and it is always the right paw.
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