Celebrating Left-Handers Day

This Wednesday marks the 22nd annual International Left-Handers Day, reminding us that 10% of the global population are in fact southpaws. Since 1992, International Left-Handers Day has raised awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.

Although left-handers excel at sports such as tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing, they are obliged to constantly adapt to a right-handed world. The official website of Left-Handers Day promotes the idea that working and living spaces should be adapted to make them easier for southpaws to use.

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Why are some people left-handed?

Scientists have long understood that primary use of one hand occurs in humans because the brain is divided into two hemispheres, so that the left side of the brain controls movement on the right side of the body and vice versa. On the other hand, we still do not have a convincing conclusion as to why humans develop a preference for using one side over the other.

For years, scientists thought that “handedness” was linked to a gene, because a preference for one side of the brain tends to run in families. However, according to The New York Times, they never managed to isolate the exact gene responsible.

In fact, recent research has shown that more than one gene is responsible. PLOS Genetics published a 2013 study which revealed that “in reality, the research suggests that handedness could be more subtle than simple ‘dominant’ or ‘recessive’ traits – a whole host of genes might play significant roles.”

Famous left-handers and some defining characteristics

Interestingly, the percentage of left-handed people to right-handed has remained constant over time, according to analyses of hand prints on ancient cave paintings and artifacts.

Three of the last four U.S. presidents have been left-handed, and other famous lefties include Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Prince Charles and Bill Gates.

The Left-Handers Day official website also trumpets the fact that southpaws are quicker to adjust to seeing underwater, and informs us that they usually reach puberty four or five months later than their right-handed peers.

Here’s to you, southpaws!