Bilateral asymmetry of the humerus during growth and development



The development of handedness throughout growth can be investigated by using bilateral asymmetry of the humerus as a proxy for this trait. A large skeletal sample of nonadults from English archaeological sites was examined using standard metric techniques to assess when right-sided asymmetry first appears in the human skeleton. Results of this work indicate a change in directional asymmetry during growth and development, with infants and young children exhibiting no significant asymmetry and older children and adolescents demonstrating right-sidedness. This trend is consistent with what has been observed in previous studies of upper limb asymmetry in skeletal material and behaviorally in living children, adding further strength to the premise that biomechanical forces strongly influence bilateral asymmetry in the upper limb bones. Variability in the magnitude of asymmetry between different features of the humerus was also noted. This characteristic can be explained by differing degrees of genetic canalization, with length and articular dimensions being more strongly canalized than diaphyseal properties. Am J Phys Anthropol 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.