Why are all our fingers different lengths? wouldn’t it be better if they were all the same length?

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Why are all our fingers different lengths? wouldn’t it be better if they were all the same length?

In: Biology

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

As with many of the oddities of our bodies, it’s a leftover from when our ancient evolutionary ancestors walked on all four limbs. The longest middle finger (toes at the time) helped with forwards movement while the shorter side fingers helped with turning while moving. And then we started walking upright rather recently in evolutionary terms, and while it helped to make our fingers longer for tree climbing/tool use, there wasn’t a pressure to equalize their lengths, so that didn’t change.

FYI, if a creature has some trait that seems weird or less than helpful, it’s probably because it either:

* Had a use in the past but having a useless version now doesn’t hurt your chances of having sex, so nothing changes (like wisdom teeth or the appendix)
* The process of adding or removing it would’ve been too harmful to the species’ fitness in the intermediary steps (like having half a limb is worse than a full limb or no limb).
* It’s an ornament for sexual selection (think peacock feathers).
* It’s a random mutation that neither helped nor hurt and so evolution didn’t do away with it (blue eyes in humans, for example).

Anonymous 0 Comments

Why would it be better?

We humans like regularity and patterns, but nature heavily favors variance and cooperativity between slightly offset (cooperative) components as well. Having a digit in a dramatically different orientation (your thumb) dramatically increases utility and grip after all. Slightly different angles/lengths can be useful too similarly, in addition to their strength coming not from the digits themselves, but the muscles pulling tendons further down your arm.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They end up being the same length when you wrap your fingers around something. Regardless, even if it was better to have our fingers completely even, there is no evolutionary pressure to make that happen since our survival doesn’t depend on it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Evolution doesn’t “make sense” really. Its just a result of what worked good enough in nature to allow a species to survive until reproduction. Our finger lengths worked just fine to feed and defend ancestors, so that got carried on without needing to be corrected.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bend your fingers into your palm. They will be even. You will be able to grip things strongly without finger length making it impossible. If your pinky finger were as long as your middle you would not be able to squeeze as tightly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Religious answer: God made us this way like 6000 years ago and we are made in His image, and it is perfect do not question it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Imagine how large our hand would have to be to accommodate the small size increase. Now. Imagine you have that large hand and need to work on a car engine. I’ll take the multiple tools over five of the same tool.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We don’t know. The theory I always heard is that it makes it easier to grip round objects, like fruits. To see why this would work, try to line up your fingertips and look at the cavity shape your hand forms.

But there are other theories. That it makes it easier for us to grip tools, or to throw things, or to form a fist, just to name a few. It could even be some combination of factors. Or even an evolutionary vestige, as other commenters have suggested. But we don’t know for sure.