The Loh Down On Science

Are humans the only animals that are right- or left-handed?

Is being left-handed … girlie?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science 

Saying, it is if you’re an opossum. 

So say Russian researchers.  They studied two very different possums:  One from South America.  The other, Australia.  They videotaped dozens of each at the Moscow Zoo.  The cameras rolled all day for two weeks to capture their every move.  Think:  The Real Possums of the Moscow Zoo. 

When they played back the videos … Oh, the drama!  But through the laughter–and the tears –came a dramatic revelation.  Whatever the critters did–whether eating or making nests–males relied on their right paws.  Females, their left.  In both species.

Looks like opossum dudes are righties.  Ladies?  Lefties.

Some other species show such a split.  But always the opposite.  Males are the lefties.  So there’s something special about possums.  Could be the fact that they’re marsupials.  They have pouches but lack a brain structure thought to confer handedness.  Maybe without it, you end up sort of backwards.

Or at least you can say with the Australian possums:  Their South Paws pointed . . . north.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

This Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Amy Alkon about her book I See Rude People.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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