“The more we observed the more it became obvious that there was something really new and interesting in the wild,” Dr Malashichev said. “We observed a remarkable consistency in responses across bipedal species in that they all prefer to use the left, not the right hand.”
Dr Malashichev and his team discovered kangaroos routinely used their left paws to perform specific tasks like grooming, picking leaves, or bending branches.
An evolutionary biologist at Saint Petersburg State University, Yegor Malashichev, has been analyzing hand specificity in animals for more than a decade, he eventually travelled to Australia to study kangaroos in the wild.
Published in the Current Biology journal, he study reports that ‘left-handedness’ was quite apparent particularly in the larger eastern grey and red kangaroo varieties.
“One reason true handedness wasn’t expected in kangaroos – or other marsupials for that matter – is because unlike other mammals they lack the same neural circuit that bridges left and right hemispheres of the brain,” Dr Malashichev said.
However, the study discovered that red-necked wallabies – which are commonly located in dense vegetation on the outskirts of Canberra – use different paws for different activities, in comparison to larger kangaroos.
“The left forelimb is preferred by red-necked wallabies in tasks that involve fine manipulation, whereas the right forelimb is preferentially used in static tasks that require physical strength,” the report said.
“The emergence of differential roles for left and right forelimbs may be associated with the need to perform distinct manual tasks during bimanual feeding.”
The report comes as the ACT government carries out an annual cull of eastern grey kangaroos on eight Canberra reserves to protect the land from overgrazing and protect sensitive flora. the yearly killing of kangaroos was scheduled to begin in May, but was delayed after animal rights activists mounted a legal challenge in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a second successive year.