Giljov and others, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2013
Which hand is dominant in opossums? It depends on their gender. Below the center line (above) is left-dominant; above the line is right-dominant.
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.
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This Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Amy Alkon about her book I See Rude People.