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By Keith Wagstaff

The idea of advanced humans and knuckle-dragging apes is evolving. Before, many believed that human beings started out with chimp-like hands, which evolved thanks to tool use.

But according to a new study, human hands could be very similar to those of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. Instead, it's chimpanzee hands that may have evolved.

Researchers from Stony Brook University compared thumb and finger proportions for modern humans and apes with their extinct ancestors.

They found that early human relatives like Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago, had hands similar to our own. In fact, human-like hands -- which have long thumbs compared to their fingers -- may goes as far back as 6 million years. Evidence of tool use only goes back 3.3 million years.

Related: Social-Networking Technology Unlocks Mystery of Chimp Civil War

Their research was published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. It indicates that human hands have changed little since the human-chimp evolutionary split. Chimp hands, however, have evolved a great deal.

We aren't alone in our primitive state. Gorilla hands are also very similar to those of the extinct creature that links man and ape.