Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Frank L’Engle Williams

Second Advisor

Bethany Turner-Livermore

Third Advisor

Susan Kirkpatrick Smith


Previous research on the biomechanics of tool use has focused heavily on traits correlated with locomotion, tool manufacturing, and habitual tool use. Features like the breadth of the metacarpals, relative length of the thumb, styloid process of the third metacarpal, and the breadth of the apical tufts are skeletal features associated with the use and development of stone tools. However, there are many traits of the distal forelimb that may also be correlated directly with the development and use of tools. The purpose of this research is to analyze morphological features of the hands and compare them to features of the arm in humans, fossil Homo and the great apes to understand how the hominin distal arm functions as a mosaic in response to the use of stone tools. The results indicate a separation between tool-users and non-tool users when all distal forelimb dimensions are examined. Omo 40-19 falls closer to non-tool users when univariate plots of ulna length and breadth are examined. Ratios of hand measurements to radius length are better at polarizing the tool-users from non-tool users than are hand dimensions to ulna length ratios. These results highlight the role of the radius in stabilizing the hand during stone tool production.