Prince William is one. So is Microsoft supremo Bill Gates. Historic figures Leonardo Da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte are part of the gang.

Add to that stars of popular culture past and present Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.

Diego Maradona is one and used it to ruin England's World Cup dreams in the 1986 World Cup.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is among the famous Scots in the club.

All are left-handers and some experts believe they may have better verbal skills with University of Oxford academics examining a correlation between handedness, language areas of the brain and neuropsychiatric diseases.

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Others have hypothesised that a higher percentage of left-handers are to be found among the high achievers in sport - from tennis star Rafael Nadal to cricketer Wasim Akram to baseball pitcher Clayton Kershaw and table tennis star Ding Ning.

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However the prevelance of people who favour their left over their right has always been a guesstimate until now.

And the biggest ever global study of its kind - involving researchers at the University of St Andrews and more than two million individuals across the world - has established for the first time that one in ten of the world's population (10.6%) favours their left hand over their right.

Researchers from across Europe, led by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and in the UK by the University of St Andrews, examined the responses of 2,396,170 individuals on hand preference for different manual tasks.

Typically measures of preference are measured by which hand is used to write with. However, for this study researchers allowed for the fact that about 9% of people use different hands for different tasks which further improved the accuracy for their findings.

The University of St Andrews said that understanding 'handedness' contributes to our understanding of human evolution.

For example, it has been claimed that right-handedness, along with the capacity to make and use tools, to use language and to show functional and anatomical cerebral specialisation, are characteristics specific to humans, and that they are intimately tied together in the divergent evolution of man from apes.

The lead UK author of the study, Dr Silvia Paracchini, of the School of Medicine at St Andrews, said: "This study will provide a useful reference for different areas of handedness research.


"In addition to providing reliable figures, the study highlights variability across studies depending on the different criteria used to measure handedness.

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"While we intuitively classify handedness as a left/right category, these data show that the proportion of people using different hands for different tasks is almost as big as the proportion of the left-handers."

The reason for people favouring a right hand is often assumed to be because it is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, which is also dominant for language in about 95 per cent of us.

Some argue that this division of neurological labour has been a feature of animals for half a billion years.

Some believe it is because it is more efficient to allow the two hemispheres to carry out different computations at the same time.

The left side of the brain, for instance, might have evolved to carry out routine operations – things like foraging for food – while the right side was kept free to detect and react rapidly to unexpected challenges in the environment like an approaching predator.

This can be seen in various fish, toads and birds, which are all more likely to attack prey seen in the right eye.

But is there any evolutionary advantage to being right or left-handed?

It appeared, perhaps around 600,000 years ago, that there was a clear right-handed preference in prehistoric societies.

Wear on the preserved teeth of Homo heidelbergensis, for instance, suggest that food was usually brought to the mouth with the right hand.

But according to a 1977 paper in the journal Psychological Bulletin, "there is remarkably little evidence for any association of left-handedness with deficit, as has often been suggested".

In fact, some research shows that left-handeds might even have an easier time recovering from brain damage. And their left hand seems to have the advantage of surprise in a fight, which means they can be better at combat sports.