I’m 40-percent thumbs

Despite the popularity of the saying, we humans will never be “all thumbs.” Ten million years from now, however, we could be “almost half thumbs.” A professor and chief surgeon at the Robert A. Chase Hand & Upper Limb Center at Stanford told me she sees a trend toward the little finger becoming a second thumb. “We cannot make a power grip without the ulnar column, without ulnar prehension,” says Dr. Amy Ladd. The ulna is the bone extending from elbow to wrist on the little finger side. “The 4th and 5th fingers control the power grip,” Dr. Ladd adds. (The 5th finger being the little finger, aka pinkie)  “(The little finger) has all the makings of a primitive thumb: its flexibility, its shortness relative to the other fingers.”

Imagine the tools with which humans will communicate and entertain ourselves then — something 10 million years more elegant than the cell phone or the Qwerty keyboard, no doubt. Imagine …


Dr. Amy Ladd's own rendition of the second thumb (image inspired by MC Escher's "Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935"

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