These hands were made for punching

By J. DeVoy

Humans’ opposable thumbs are crucial to a range of functions needed to grapple with and manipulate materials to build advanced shelters, tools, and other devices.  But our hands could have developed in any number of ways while retaining opposing thumbs – why is the human hand proportioned the way it is?

Answer: To punch people.

Prof. David Carrier at the University of Utah has been testing this hypothesis and postulates that:

“there are several possible hand shapes that would have allowed greater dexterity, making it less clear why we ended up with the hands we have. But only one hand shape lets us make a fist with a thumb as buttress.” (source)

More information at the link.

8 Responses to These hands were made for punching

  1. dan says:

    O causality causality, wherefore art thou causality?

  2. Ancel De Lambert says:

    This is an idiotic stance to take, because our fists are actually TERRIBLE at punching things. There’s a reason we built spears, broken knuckles are that reason.

    • Zack says:

      It gives us a tool in intraspecies fights for dominance, a weapon of last resort against animals and hostile humans, a convenient way to protect our fingers from being grabbed and injured in fights with other dextrous creatures, and a way to very visibly display high levels of tension.

      Just a couple of uses for fists that came off the top of my head.

  3. dan says:

    even if fists are good at punching (I only practice zero-contact martial arts so I have no real clue), there’s no causal link. There’s not even a really good non-causal link because the test subjects were not randomized alpha males (or randomized at all). They selected for superior firepower in the first place. well … duh!

  4. Wheeze The People™ says:

    So how long will it be until we evolve another similarly situated thumb, specialized to protect the First Amendment finger — the middle one?? Enquiring minds want to know . . .


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