Hand Meditations


I was thinking about the Eohippus the other day: a dog sized prehistoric creature that is an evolutionary predecessor to the modern horse. At age nine I was obsessed with horses so I did a paper on the Eohippus, researching it in the library using the card catalogue and the Dewey decimal system and having to go over to the neighbors house to type it up because we didn’t have a computer at home. So really, I’m old enough to have seen the Eohippus for myself.

A factoid that stuck in my mind about the Eohippus was the fact that it had multiple toes instead of just one big hoof like a modern horse. This made me curious to know why horses had deemed a single hoof to be more evolutionary valuable than multiple toes. This then made me wonder why humans had persisted with so many fingers. And why five in particular? What advantage was five fingers over, say, four or six? If we’d evolved to have six fingers then base-twelve math would be a lot easier, that’s for sure. And why are all the fingers different? Why is the middle finger the longest and not the forefinger? Why bother with a pinky?

I once read that it was not the opposable thumb that separated man from the beasts, but rather the flexible palm that allows the thumb to touch the end of the pinky allowing a much wider range of movement that most animals have and therefore a more refined ability to create and use tools.

I sometimes think that hands were designed specifically to confound artists trying to draw them.

Anyway, I’ve already given this more thought than is strictly necessary, so that’s all for tonight.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on November 28, 2015.

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