Advice: Five fingers on each hand instead of six?


Dear Beerhaze,

Why do we have five fingers on each hand instead of six? I know it has to do with biological evolution somehow but I can’t find any information about it.

Can you help?

Dear Bone Juice,

You will mess up summer school… if you think “biological evolution”… You are close though: it’s called “practical evolution” or “natural selection”.

At the time when our furry ancestors first climbed down from the trees, they used to have six fingers and six toes. This however caused huge problems on the ground:

  1. When picking berries and putting them to their mouths, they often ended up poking themselves in the eyes with their “extra” finger. Half-blind monkeys make for easy prey…
  2. When running away from predators they would often stab their “extra” toe on rocks and branches, thus hurting themselves. Limping monkeys make for easy prey…

Over millions of years the monkeys with the smallest “extra” fingers and toes survived, and they got to ”go dirty monkeys” with each other, thus passing on their genes to the next generation. Over time the fingers and toes got smaller and smaller, until they were no longer there.

If you look at “natural selection” today: the same thing is happening to humans and the use of iPods with rap music – pedestrians are being killed and maimed at an alarming rate! Scientists believe that rap music will be dead and forgotten in less than a decade.

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