About 11% of the British population is currently left-handed. But that wasn’t always the case. Among people born in 1900, the proportion of lefties was just 3%.
Chris McManus and Alex Hartigan from University College London worked this out with the help of old films made at the turn of the 19th century and recently restored. The films, which show people moving in and out of Victorian factories, paint an evocative picture of a time gone by. By noting which hand the people in the film waved in, the duo were able to work out the proportions of left-handers alive at the time.
I interviewed McManus last week about his study, London and his writing as my first proper freelance writing assignment. He had lots to say and said it very well. Have a look at the full interview at Nature Networks.
Reference: McManus & Hartigan. 2007. Declining left-handedness in Victorian England seen in the films of Mitchell and Kenyon. Curr Biol 17: R793-R794.
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