Darwin's Fight Club

Sunday December 09, 2018 Written by Ronan

It’s strange to think that at the end of your arm lies a lethal weapon just waiting to be clenched into action. While the more peaceable amongst us use it for shaking hands, stroking small kittens and offering an ever-chipper thumbs-up, there’s no denying the destructive tool that’s only ever a few finger-curls away: the fist.

A recent episode of podcast Stuff to Blow your Mind explores how the human species got so punchy. Drawing on the work of University of Utah biologist David Carrier, the podcast explores the theory that punching is one of our hand’s primary reasons for being.

Through some amusing contraptions, including a mechanical punching arm made out of a pendulum and actual cadavers, Carrier proposes that the fist is specially designed to protect the hand’s bones while unleashing maximum force on someone else’s face – something he claims actually predates the dexterity required to use tools.

The best thing about his theory is that if you don’t agree with it, Carrier has at his disposal a very convincing way of proving his point. We wouldn’t recommend challenging him.