The human opposable thumb: with reason neurologist Frank R. Wilson called it ‘the Twenty-Four-Karat thumb’. Because thumb studies in primates have revealed that only humans have ‘perfect opposable thumbs’. But there is more, because new evidence indicates that the opposable thumb has a direct correlation with self-awareness in the primate family!
Scientists say that there are two things that have given rise to man’s dominance as a species: one is the opposable thumb, the other is self-awareness. Interestingly, scientists also developed a test to assess ‘self-recognition’ (which is in psychology known as a first milestone in the development of self-awareness in young children) via the so-called ‘mirror test’.
The video below shows how this ‘mirror test’ has also been used to assess the capability for self-recognition in primates. And the table below displays a strong correlation between self-recognition and the opposable thumb in the primate family tree (+ a the bottom a picture is presented summarizing the hand characteristics seen in the listed primate species).
The primate hands family tree shows how dominant behavior in primates can be linked with hand structure. For example, gorillas & baboons are known to belong to the most dominant/aggressive primate species and both species have a hand structure that is different from other primate species!
It is rather fascinating to see that both species (gorilla + baboon) actually have a hand structure that reminds us of the typical hand differences seen between males and females, incuding: short fingers, broad palms & a low 2D:4D digit ratio.
These biological & evolutionary patterns appear to explain why in nearly all primate species males tend to dominate females. Except for the bonobos of course, females tend to collectively dominate males by forming alliances and use sexuality to control males – interestingly, a few years ago a study reported that bonobos have a rather human-like 2D:4D digit ratio (close to 0.94)… which is illustrative for their rather high emotional intelligence. The Bonobo-society has been described as ‘extraordinarily peacefull’.
This illustrates that Sir Charles Bell was very right about the hand representing capacity, and modern science has still a long way to go in order to understand properly how the structure of the hand corresponds with behavior!
February 11, 2013
The violin is known as the instrument most commonly offered to children by state schools in the UK. It’s a challenging instrument, because rapid independent motion of the digital joints in the left hand is desirable… and a requirement in order to become a top violin player! A brand new study focussed on the pinky finger was designed after an 11-year-old patient volunteered that she had given up playing the violin because of difficulty and discomfort manoeuvring the left small and ring fingers independently. On examination, she was found to have absent FDS (flexor digitorum superficialis) function in the small finger – a condition that can be found in about 6% of the general populaton.
Do you have the ‘flexor digitorum superficialis’?
You can test this right now at home (see also the video below): hold down the index, middle, and ring fingers of your left hand, then try to bend your little finger. Now try it again, but allow your ring finger to bend as well.
Can you do it?
The UK study revealed that about 18 percent of people can do neither!
However, in a group of 90 professional musicians from “three of London’s leading orchestras” (38 first violinists, 33 second violinists, 19 viola players), none lacked this ability, and all but two were able to bend just their pinky finger!!!
Via: The Atlantic
February 9, 2013
Last december the Megan Fox thumb ’saga’ continued at The Tonigh Show with Jay Leno, where Megan talked about her thumb insecurities (she has clubbed thumbs)… suggesting that she thinks her weird ‘fat’ thumbs are the result of her mom eating Tuna during her pregnancy of Megan!
‘What is weird to me is I was talking to my mom … and she was like, “Oh, I ate tuna every day when I was pregnant with you,” I was wondering if that was what happened to my thumbs. They’re weird and they’re really fat and there’s like a weird knuckle.’
Now that Megan has become a mom herself (in the summer of 2012 Megan wondered if she was maybe birthing a vampire baby like the one from ‘Twilight’), it is heartbreaking to see that she now has the guts to talk about her thumb insecurities. Hopefully, this will inspire other people having this physical anomaly to deal with feeling of shame!
TIP - Megan Fox thumb tribute!
(The episode was featured at VH1 & below you can find the YouTube video featuring Megan Fox interview in december 2012 at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno)
Earlier reports about Megan Fox’ toe tumbs:
• Actress Megan Fox has the clubbed thumb (BDD) – it’s a hereditary cosmetic defect! (2009)
• Megan Fox’ stubby thumbs replaced for Motorola Super Bowl commercial! (2010)
• Megan Fox has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: what are the associated hand characteristics? (2010)
• Megan Fox’ thumb got Photoshopped in Armani Jeans & Underwear Campaign! (2011)
Iran’s new finger-chopping machine may be touted as a punishment for thieves, but Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam (spokesperson for Iran Human Rights in Norway) thinks this cruel and unusual method of punishment is really just an attempt to crush political dissent!
Iran has unveiled its latest innovation in criminal punishment – a machine that cuts off the fingers of thieves. A series of photographs appearing to show a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device, have been published latelly by an official Iranian press agency.
According to the INSA news service, the prisoner used to demonstrate the brutal contraption had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz last Wednesday. The series of pictures show three masked officials, clad entirely in black, holding the man’s right hand in a vice while one turns a wheel operating the guillotine in the manner of a rotary saw.
This warning, issued without explanation, is perceived by various authorities to deter public protest ahead of June’s general elections.
More impression from the published series of photographs is available at The Telegraph
January 18, 2013
ARIZONA, OCTOBER 2012
This remarkable photo was taken by Arizona’s Randy Atkins, who is a professional photographer. His wife Alicia gave birth to their daughter Neveah last October.
“The doctor called me over and said, ‘Hey, she’s grabbing my finger,’” Mr Atkins told Arizona’s 3TV News. “So I ran over there and just grabbed the shot and I was just in awe looking at it. It was such an amazing picture.”
The Atkins posted the photo on facebook and thanked obstetrician Dr Allen Sawyer.
By the way, doctors say that it is not unusual for babies in this position to reach out to the world. The story reminds us to an even more impressive story about a 22 week old fetus who made a likewise gesture in the year 1999 (see picture below):
Holding hands with a 21-week old fetus: the story of Samuel Armas
December 27, 2012
In 2011 Amnesty International presented the ad campaign Human Piano playing ‘Living Harmony’. In november 2012 they launched a new Living in Harmony ad campaign that is aimed at sending a harmonious message to people about ‘Living in Harmony’ with each other.
Each finger in the Human Piano depicts a different personality that is highlighted with information about them and a link to the cause that they support.
Advertising Agency: Grey Istanbul, Turkey
You might want to play the Human Piano yourself, visit: humanpiano.org
(The video below demonstrates how the Human Piano can be used for various purposes)
December 14, 2012
Earlier this week the BBC has presented a report about the first woman in the world who has managed to write a different language with each of her hands… simultaneously!
Chen Siyuan (24) is an ambidextrous translator from Handan in China’s northern Hebei province, and she learned herself to write with both hands at the same time, in order to complete her translation-work faster. She discovered that repetition-writing with two hands has helped her to use her time more efficient.
By the way, her talents extend to writing poetry using different hands to write consecutive sentences at the same time, and perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story is that Chen Siyuan is able to writing Chinese with one hand and English with the other.
Here’s the BBC-video report about Chen Siyuan’s rather remarkable ultimate ambidexterity writing skills:
November 20, 2012
Polydactly (extra fingers) is one of the 10 most common pediatric orthopedic conditions, and this condition has been studied as early as the days of Charles Darwin, who suggested that the condition of having more than the usual number of fingers or toes (polydactyly) was an ancient trait, now mostly formant, that occasionally reappears due to some hereditary misstep.
Basically, there are three polydactyly variants:
A – most common is the variant featured with an extra pinky (see picture above)
B – less common is the variant featured with an extra thumb
C – rare is the variant featured with an extra index finger, middle finger or ring finger
A few (recent) reports about polydactyly:
November 19, 2012
Hrithik Roshan – the Bollywood moviestar – has a very unusual thumb, which was not easy at all at young age. But in time he learned to accept (and love) his abnormality; Roshan once described:
“I had this extra thumb…I stammered and in school – you know what kids are like – well, it was hell most of the time. My being quiet and sensitive came about as a consequence. I never felt normal. I always felt abnormal. I always felt I did not fit in.”
NOTE: On a technical level one can describe Roshan’s thumb as a combination of two abnormalities: polydactyly + syndactyly.
More impressions & info about Hrithik Roshan’s thumb are available at: