Article published in:Gesture, ritual and memory
Edited by Paul Bouissac
[Gesture 6:2] 2006
► pp. 189–204
Gesture in evolutionary perspective
Gesture is mostly a function of the upper limbs of Homo sapiens and is constrained by the skeleton and neuromuscular apparatus which have evolved under the selection pressures of arboreal environments. This article raises the issue of the early adaptations which determined the range of movements which made possible the emergence of gesture both technical and cultural. It addresses the problem of explaining in evolutionary terms the multi-functionality of the human hand and arm. It suggests that once early humans became bipedal further pressures combined to conserve and expand the range of adaptations afforded by the upper limbs through selection processes such as exaptation, niche construction and the Baldwin effect. It concludes that a theory of gesture must integrate evolutionary and developmental considerations.
Keywords: evolution, gesture, bipedalism, display, thermoregulation, exaptation
Published online: 16 October 2006
Cited by 2 other publications
Matsumoto, David & Hyisung C. Hwang
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