Not just another digit on an animated fish-slice

“The movement of the thumb underlies all the skilled procedures of which the hand is capable. The hand without a thumb is at worst, nothing but an animated fish-slice, and at best a pair of forceps whose points don’t meet properly. Without the thumb, the hand is put back 60 million years in evolutionary terms to a stage when the thumb had no independent movement and was just another digit. One cannot emphasize enough the importance of finger-thumb opposition for human emergence from a relatively undistinguished primate background.”     (from John Napier’s Hands, published by Pantheon Books, 1980)


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