Study: Most kangaroos are left-handed

New research looking for commonalities in brain patterns between mammals revealed new a characteristic about Australian marsupials.

New research shows most kangaroos are left-handed. (Flickr Commons/Kyle Taylor)
New research shows most kangaroos are left-handed. (Flickr Commons/Kyle Taylor)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – A new study published in the journal Current Biology says kangaroos tend to be left-handed.

According to the study, authored by lead researcher Yegor Malashichev of Saint Petersburg State University in Russia, wild kangaroos in Australia and Tasmania showed “a natural preference for their left hands when performing particular actions – grooming the nose, picking a leaf or bending for a tree branch.”

Researchers note left-handedness was more apparent in eastern grey and red kangaroos, while other species, such as the red-necked wallaby, appeared to use its left hand for tasks involving fine motor skills, while using its right hand for tasks that call for more physical strength.

Scientists are looking for consistencies in the brains of mammals, particularly those that walk upright. According to Malashichev, in “a special-assessment scale of handedness adopted for primates, kangaroos pulled down the highest grades.”

Malashichev was surprised by his team’s findings because kangaroos lack the neural circuit that links the two hemispheres of the brain that is common in other mammals.

“What we observed in reality, we did not initially expect,” he said. “But the more we observed, the more it became obvious that there is something really new and interesting in the wild.”

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