London: A new study has revealed that the hormone which affects finger length is key to social behaviour. Researchers from Liverpool University and Universityof Oxford have carried out the study into the finger lengthof primate species and found that cooperative behaviour islinked to exposure to hormone levels in the womb.
In their study, the researchers used finger ratiosas an indicator of the levels of exposure to the hormone andcompared this data with social behaviour in primate groups --they found that baboons have longer fourth finger as comparedto the second finger, which suggests they have been exposed tohigh levels of prenatal androgens. These species tend to be highly competitiveand promiscuous, which suggests that exposure to a lot ofandrogens before birth could be linked to the expression ofthis behaviour.Other species, such as gibbons and many New Worldspecies, have digit ratios that suggest low levels of prenatalandrogen exposure. These species were monogamous and lesscompetitive than Old World monkeys. Emma Nelson of University of Liverpool said: "It isthought that prenatal androgens affect the genes responsiblefor the development of fingers, toes and the reproductivesystem. "High androgen levels from a foetus or mother duringpregnancy, may alter gene function and lead to subtle changesin relative digit length and the functioning of thereproductive system. "Finger ratios do not change very much after birth andappear to tell us something about how very early androgensaffect adult behaviour, particularly behaviour linked tomating and reproduction." The findings have been published in the `AmericanJournal of Physical Anthropology`.Bureau Report
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