Fingers on Humans

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:28 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:And I find that surprising. It's like someone saying "I mean, I can look up and down, but 30 degrees to the left or right and I can feel my eyeballs straining"

I presume that if an otherwise normal human reached adulthood without ever having moved their eyes more than 5 degrees to the left and right the muscles that move the eye would strain on trying to move 30 degrees.
I never had a reason to touch my pinkie to my thumb so the muscles required for that are just not really good at it.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby azule » Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:04 am UTC

There's no muscles in the fingers, just tendons. So it would be stretching, not muscle building.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Angua » Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:05 pm UTC

The main muscles for that movement are found in the hand.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:44 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:“When attempting something similar to the ASL 6, but instead of holding the pinky down with the thumb, trying to do it with thumb and pinky tips gently touching (actual tips, so the nails are essentially continuous), it is difficult to straighten the ring finger.”

Oh, then yes, I would say that is different, and is difficult to do so.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:48 pm UTC

Still not at all difficult, but then I did play piano for 10 years, which probably has something to do with it.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby mathmannix » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:49 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:And I find that surprising. It's like someone saying "I mean, I can look up and down, but 30 degrees to the left or right and I can feel my eyeballs straining"

No, what was actually said amounts to, “When attempting something similar to the ASL 6, but instead of holding the pinky down with the thumb, trying to do it with thumb and pinky tips gently touching (actual tips, so the nails are essentially continuous), it is difficult to straighten the ring finger.”

This is…hardly surprising at all, once explained properly.

For myself, attempting that same action, with my right hand I can get close enough to look straight, but probably 5-10° off. With my left hand, I can’t even fully extend my ring finger in that position. The actual ASL 6 and the Scout sign are both quite easy for me.


Oh, you're allowed to hold down the finger with your thumb? Yeah, I didn't get that at all.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby cphite » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:41 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Your most redundant finger is actually the index finger - any task you do with it can easily be taken over by the middle finger. The pinky is quite important for grip strength.


In the martial arts you learn that when gripping something like an opponents arm, or the handle of a sword, it's actually better to relax the index finger just a bit. The reason is the geometry of the hand - if you grip tightly with the index finger then the grip tends to be focused on the side of the hand between the index finger and thumb, and so any lateral or twisting movement tends to be focused there, and it acts as sort of a lever against the rest of the hand.

If you relax the index finger, the focus of your grip is more to the center of your palm, and you'll find that you're able to more easily keep hold of something that is trying to leverage itself out of your grip - whether it be an arm trying to wriggle out, or a sword handle during a strike.

In fact with the sword we learn to grip most tightly with the pinky and ring fingers, relax the middle finger just a teeny bit, and relax the index finger to the point where it's just barely gripping at all. This makes it much easier to control the weapon and maintain a solid grip during more powerful attacks.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:42 pm UTC

azule wrote:Hello. I meant, not how do people use them, but how do they themselves work "as fingers". In otherwords, Edward ScissorChopstickhands. Maybe you're also willing to explain how they work efficiently enough to survive along with the fork, the spoon, and even just going commando (using fingers directly)?
I use chopsticks in two general ways:

The sushi way: for picking up discrete items. The ends contract on a lower portion of the object, slightly distorting it's shape.

The rice way: For many small items. Hold the sticks a narrow distance apart with the tips pointing slightly outward; approach the portion form as low as possible; draw the tips together creating a narrow gap between the sticks; avoid any kind of tilting on moving the food to the mouth.

As for why chops sticks: The sushi way allows one to eat sushi without 1) Disturbing the other pieces, fingers are wider and curl when they grip 2) getting hands dirty. 3) the structure oft he roll is undisturbed (stabbing it with a fork might unravel it).

Personally, I really just do the rice way on principle. But it does allow clean hands and avoids complicated table settings.
A case [partner dancing] for just 2 fingers (and a thumb, I'm assuming the other partner "gribs" with the thumb?).
No. Nothing either partner does individually is sufficient to form a grip. Both partners (should) use only be using the same two fingers. The opposition provided in grips by thumb/finger or finger/palm combination is instead provided by the two people each acting as half a grip.

That said, actually gripping is a mistake virtually all beginners make.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby azule » Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:46 am UTC

Thanks for the insight, cphite.

Hehe, dancers should only have two fingers, no thumb. "Sorry, Bobby, you were born a dancer. See, no thumbs? Billy, get back to gardening, 'Thumbs'!"

gmalivuk wrote:Still not at all difficult, but then I did play piano for 10 years, which probably has something to do with it.
My left hand is able to do pinky tip and other fingers straight with minor effort. That is my fret hand in guitar, which has to often contort like crazy. I've been testing these exercises with my right hand, where it is much, much harder to straighten the ring. So what you say is true.

See, if I were born to play guitar, I'd have one hand with 5 or 6 fingers, for fretting, and the other with maybe 2 or 3 (including thumb) on the other, just for gripping a pick. I would be weird.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Derek » Sat Dec 20, 2014 12:45 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:For myself, attempting that same action, with my right hand I can get close enough to look straight, but probably 5-10° off. With my left hand, I can’t even fully extend my ring finger in that position. The actual ASL 6 and the Scout sign are both quite easy for me.

Datapoint: I can do the "ASL 6" shape with little or no trouble with my left hand, but on my right hand it is slightly strained, with the ring finger trying to curl down.

(I'm right handed, and don't have any particular finger stretching activities other than keyboarding, mouse+keyboarding, and videogames)

Personally, I really just do the rice way on principle. But it does allow clean hands and avoids complicated table settings.

You know, all you really need at a place setting is a fork and knife, and a spoon if you are having soup. In fact, if you're going to compare directly with chopsticks, only a fork is really needed. Anything chopsticks can cut a fork can cut too, and neither can be used with soup. (Yeah, I think chopsticks are stupid)

But if you ever do find yourself setting a table for a fancy(ish) dinner, here are the "rules": Forks on left, knives and spoons on right (knives inside, blade facing the plate). When multiples of the same utensil are involved, largest on the inside, smallest on the outside. Napkins either left of fork(s), or underneath. Glasses go in the top right. Salad/bread bowls/plates go top left. Most people will neither know nor care if you get it wrong though. This is what I learned from having to set the table most nights at my house. Ironically, my sister never learned this, so now when she hosts dinners she gets the place settings wrong every time :P.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby azule » Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:07 am UTC

But where does the servant sit? ;) :P




Sorry. All I have today is a joke. *cough* How many fingers are needed for sign language?
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby eternauta3k » Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:39 am UTC

We should have 105 fingers total.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby azule » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:09 am UTC

^ Dedicated task fingers. Maybe what we need are extendable fingers, where we could plug in for extra digits. A portal in the pinky spot or wherever.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby You, sir, name? » Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:07 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Your most redundant finger is actually the index finger - any task you do with it can easily be taken over by the middle finger. The pinky is quite important for grip strength.


Dunno. That midly stupid-looking hand-gun gesture doesn't quite work with the middle finer.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Angua » Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:03 pm UTC

It does if you don't have an index finger getting in the way!
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

azule wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:Chopsticks use three fingers and six points of contact:
Hello. I meant, not how do people use them, but how do they themselves work "as fingers". In otherwords, Edward ScissorChopstickhands. Maybe you're also willing to explain how they work efficiently enough to survive along with the fork, the spoon, and even just going commando (using fingers directly)?

The grip used to hold chopsticks typically constrains them to a single plane of pincher-like movement. The lower chopstick is held immobile, while the upper chopstick is free to move up and down but cannot move left or right.

Think about a lobster's foreclaw. The larger "finger" of the claw is fixed, while the smaller "finger" may open or close but does not move perpendicularly.

From a mechanistic standpoint, this limitation on degrees of freedom is highly advantageous for the lobster and other clawed crustaceans, because it allows for greater force to be applied consistently and stably by only a few muscles. In contrast, our fingers are all triple-jointed (including the thumb, though its first joint is buried in the wrist), which gives them a nearly unlimited range of motion and fine control along their surfaces (e.g., if you hold a ball bearing between your thumb and any finger, you can roll it forward and backward, left and right, and any planar direction in between) but reduces the stability of the "open-shut" motion. More degrees of freedom means less stability in tension/compression motions.

With polyjointed digits, then, we need to use two or three or all four fingers working together to increase the stability of our grip. A lobster has a self-stabilizing grip with only one moving digit, but obviously lacks the fine manipulation control of our fingers.

Because chopsticks are used in a self-stabilizing way, they allow you to exert greater force with less effort, using very small gripping surfaces that can fit into a smaller space than your fingertips can. For a task like picking up sushi or other discrete food items, this is fantastic; you can choose exactly how much force to use more easily than with your fingers, which are comparatively less stable.

Forks are somewhat easier to use, but they are necessarily a "destructive" way of picking something up. "You can't pick this up without piercing holes in it" might not seem like a problem for something you're going to chew up anyway...but then again, have you ever tried to stab a single piece of lettuce with a fork? Or a tiny piece of carrot that keeps sliding around on the plate? When you stab something, the underlying surface needs to act as your opposable control tool, and that makes things tricky. What if all you have is a shitty plastic fork and the tines keep bending, or what if your plate is made of styrofoam? Maybe the pieces of food are just resting on a napkin in your hand and you'd rather not stab yourself, or maybe the piece of food is part of a delicate table arrangement that doesn't give you any surface to poke against. Perhaps you want to pick up a cherry tomato but don't want the juice to squirt everywhere like it does when you stab it. In all of these cases, it would be preferable to have a non-destructive means of picking up and moving the object.

There's a very good reason why tractors/trucks used in numerous industries (recycling, salvage, shipping, logging, construction, landscaping, utility work, and more) are often equipped with a powered grapple/claw arm rather than just having a fixed arm with long stabby tines on the end.

However, it's true that chopsticks suck for trying to "scoop" independent objects simultaneously. A fork is better for this, but only accidentally because it can mimic the action of a spoon.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Derek » Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:35 am UTC

A fork is better for this, but only accidentally because it can mimic the action of a spoon.

That's why God invented the spork.

(Or, you know, just have both at your place setting)

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby iChef » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:16 pm UTC

I think we have a fine number of fingers. You use your pinky much more often than you think. Also it would be nearly impossible to drive without a middle finger.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:02 pm UTC

]
sevenperforce wrote:A fork is better for this, but only accidentally because it can mimic the action of a spoon.
I can't believe I didn't notice that. I also can't believe I can't find a spoon I'd eat rice with; they make an absinthe spoon, but not a (eating) rice spoon? (BTW, I'm picturing either a fork with the tines completely filled in, or a square shovel in tableware size).
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Derek » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:55 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:]I can't believe I didn't notice that. I also can't believe I can't find a spoon I'd eat rice with; they make an absinthe spoon, but not a (eating) rice spoon? (BTW, I'm picturing either a fork with the tines completely filled in, or a square shovel in tableware size).

Why do you need a special spoon to eat rice? I always eat rice with either a spoon or a fork and it works fine.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:12 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
sevenperforce wrote:A fork is better for this, but only accidentally because it can mimic the action of a spoon.
I can't believe I didn't notice that. I also can't believe I can't find a spoon I'd eat rice with. (BTW, I'm picturing either a fork with the tines completely filled in, or a square shovel in tableware size).

Your double negative threw me for a loop there.

You're saying you are surprised that no spoons you've ever seen are suitable (in your view) for the consumption of rice?

Sticky rice tends to clump together very nicely, which is why you can use chopsticks to eat it. A spoon is not as good for eating rice precisely because it already clumps; you can use a fork to destructively scoop up a spoonful-sized portion, but a spoon will be more inclined to just push the clumps around. A better example of "independent objects" would be trying to eat something like a bowl full of sunflower seeds; the lack of cohesion means a spoon is pretty much the only thing that will work at all.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:25 pm UTC

Derek wrote:Why do you need a special spoon to eat rice? I always eat rice with either a spoon or a fork and it works fine.
To be honest I've never tried with a spoon, but I'd assume with a tables spoon there's an issue with getting the rice that's shallower then the depth of the spoon. A fork that's parallel to the plate is able to get rice from a very low depth.
sevenperforce wrote:spoon will be more inclined to just push the clumps around.
A table spoon, yes, but that's because it can't get underneath the lumps well.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:34 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
Derek wrote:Why do you need a special spoon to eat rice? I always eat rice with either a spoon or a fork and it works fine.
To be honest I've never tried with a spoon, but I'd assume with a tables spoon there's an issue with getting the rice that's shallower then the depth of the spoon. A fork that's parallel to the plate is able to get rice from a very low depth.

When you have very little rice remaining in your dish, you have to tilt the spoon to 90 degrees relative to the dish surface and apply pressure to the side of the rice grains, overcoming friction and inducing translational motion. In this way, all remaining rice can be collected at the border of the dish. Once this has been accomplished, you can "pinch" the rice between the side of the dish and your spoon, forcing it up and into the bowl of the spoon.

Even when the dish is full of rice, using a spoon still requires that you effectively "pinch" it between the bowl of the spoon and the adjoining rice. So even in this case, a pincher-like physics is required. Which explains why chopsticks remain more versatile.

sevenperforce wrote:spoon will be more inclined to just push the clumps around.
A table spoon, yes, but that's because it can't get underneath the lumps well.

Right. You either have to choose between the action of an inclined plane (stabbing or scraping underneath with a sufficiently narrow tool) or a pinching action as described above. That's pretty much all that physics offers you.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby twinsen » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:55 am UTC

The tools your hand was designed for required it.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:51 pm UTC

twinsen wrote:The tools your hand was designed for required it.

And potholes were perfectly designed to fit the shape of the puddles that accumulate in them.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

sevenperforce wrote:
twinsen wrote:The tools your hand was designed for required it.

And potholes were perfectly designed to fit the shape of the puddles that accumulate in them.

We really need that Like button.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:42 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
sevenperforce wrote:
twinsen wrote:The tools your hand was designed for required it.

And potholes were perfectly designed to fit the shape of the puddles that accumulate in them.

We really need that Like button.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Xanthir » Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:26 am UTC

sevenperforce wrote:
twinsen wrote:The tools your hand was designed for required it.

And potholes were perfectly designed to fit the shape of the puddles that accumulate in them.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Angua » Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:28 am UTC

The sun rises in the morning, when most people are ready to start the day.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Mar 13, 2015 3:51 am UTC

My favoritest favorite thing about the "banana" meme is that bananas as we know them are a domesticated, mass-produced monoculture bred from plants that look nothing like the bananas we recognize and do not, in fact, make convenient self-contained snacks.

Edit: Like, "And The Lord said, let there be Coca Cola, and it was so." Also, I'm very glad that my eyes are designed to be most receptive in the exact spectra my computer monitor uses, so that I can conveniently see and type this post.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby krogoth » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:57 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:My favoritest favorite thing about the "banana" meme is that bananas as we know them are a domesticated, mass-produced monoculture bred from plants that look nothing like the bananas we recognize and do not, in fact, make convenient self-contained snacks.

Edit: Like, "And The Lord said, let there be Coca Cola, and it was so." Also, I'm very glad that my eyes are designed to be most receptive in the exact spectra my computer monitor uses, so that I can conveniently see and type this post.


The human hand is also perfectly made such that there is no wastage, the thumb for a job well done "thumbs up", the index finger for pointing, the middle finger for "the bird", the ring finger for... the ring, and the pinky for promises with kids. Even the palm is useful for when the "perfection of creation" is suggested to point to a designer.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby sevenperforce » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:10 pm UTC

krogoth wrote:The human hand is also perfectly made such that there is no wastage, the thumb for a job well done "thumbs up", the index finger for pointing, the middle finger for "the bird", the ring finger for... the ring, and the pinky for promises with kids. Even the palm is useful for when the "perfection of creation" is suggested to point to a designer.

Turn the other cheek?

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby mathmannix » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:24 pm UTC

krogoth wrote:Even the palm is useful for when the "perfection of creation" is suggested to point to a designer.

You give them a high-five!
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:02 am UTC

I guess it'd be breaking board rules to high-five you in the face right now, huh. = P
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Cradarc » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:06 pm UTC

I think we are intrinsically biased in this discussion because humans have had five fingers for so long, they have adapted (can body parts evolve?) to suit human behavior perfectly.
Asking why we have 5 fingers is akin to asking why we have 2 legs (three or four legs will offer more stability and mobility). There's no scientific reason that it must be this way, but it happened to be this way and there was not enough environmental pressure to evolve a completely different way.

IMO, there are a millions of possibilities that are "favorable" to an apex species with superior intellect. There is little reason why humans must look like the way we do now. It just happened to turn out that way (or for theists, designed that way). The falsifiability of evolutionary biology is nearly nonexistent when it comes to explaining why modern creatures are structured the way they do. There's countless ways to justify how a particular trait is favorable to reproduction.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:09 pm UTC

I think you have that backwards actually. The quadrupeds with 5 digits at the ends of their appendages predate homonids. There are lots of reasons why the vertebrate bauplan is what it is and works well at what it does - it most certainly predates human behavior.

Body plans are interesting, though life as we know it today doesn't use a terribly wide variety of plans.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Cradarc » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:37 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I think you have that backwards actually. The quadrupeds with 5 digits at the ends of their appendages predate homonids.

I was thinking along the lines of centaurs. I don't believe centaurs existed.
From what I've heard, the theory is that walking on two legs freed up the forelegs to do work (and later become hands). But there are clearly benefits to having more than two legs and still have two arms. If such a centaurian creature existed, I'm sure evolutionary biologists can come up with some very good reasons for why they are the way they are.

My point is there are many reasonable explanations for any body plan you can think of. If we were centaurian creatures, we would not wonder why we aren't bipedal. Instead, we would find evidence that supports the centaurian body shape is superior to a bipedal one. We are intrinsically biased to support what we know is reality instead of refuting every scenario that isn't reality.

The OP essentially asked about why having 5 fingers is efficient. The truth is, it may not be. However, because it is reality, we can more easily find ways to justify why it would be.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:51 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:My point is there are many reasonable explanations for any body plan you can think of.
No, no there aren't.

Cradarc wrote: If we were centaurian creatures, we would not wonder why we aren't bipedal.
Until a biped out distanced us in a run.

Cradarc wrote:We are intrinsically biased to support what we know is reality instead of refuting every scenario that isn't reality.
This is the part I'm having a hard time following - are you saying 'non-evolutionary biologists are biased in their perceptions of how they think evolutionary biology should work'? If so, well, yes.

Cradarc wrote:The OP essentially asked about why having 5 fingers is efficient. The truth is, it may not be. However, because it is reality, we can more easily find ways to justify why it would be.
Efficient compared to what? There are animals that have different hand plans than we do, and they're very good at what they do. Our hands are wonderful tool manipulators (and a few other things, like throwing leverage), but they're pretty shitty hooves, and aren't very effective claws or talons. We couldn't use them for percussive palpation of trees.
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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby BlackSails » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:14 am UTC

We actually have quite a few diseases that plague us almost entirely because we said fuck you to gravity and stood up.

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Re: Fingers on Humans

Postby Cradarc » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:32 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Cradarc wrote:My point is there are many reasonable explanations for any body plan you can think of.
No, no there aren't.

Okay.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Cradarc wrote: If we were centaurian creatures, we would not wonder why we aren't bipedal.
Until a biped out distanced us in a run.

Hyenas outclass us in endurance. So we have to be just fast enough to outspeed them.
Which begs the question: Why weren't we hyenas with large brains and two extra limbs? In centaurian world, that is exactly what we are.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Cradarc wrote:We are intrinsically biased to support what we know is reality instead of refuting every scenario that isn't reality.
This is the part I'm having a hard time following - are you saying 'non-evolutionary biologists are biased in their perceptions of how they think evolutionary biology should work'? If so, well, yes.

No, I'm saying evolutionary biologists have quite a lot of freedom in creating their theories while still staying reputable. Take the linked article for example. It mentions a "sketchiest part" of the hypothesis. What sort of fossil evidence could possibly disprove that? The fossils say humans are structured to be distance runners, but they don't say why we had to be.
I don't need to be a scientist to make a claim like that. I just need to notice modern humans are good at distance running compared to other animals and come up with some plausible situation where distance running may have been helpful in our biological history.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Cradarc wrote:The OP essentially asked about why having 5 fingers is efficient. The truth is, it may not be. However, because it is reality, we can more easily find ways to justify why it would be.
Efficient compared to what?

Efficient compared to 3,4,6, 10 fingers. The OP was not asking about hand structure, but about number of fingers. If you were born with no pinky on either hand, the only issues you would encounter are those introduced by humans with five fingers on each hand.
However, since we do have five fingers, some scientist out there will have a nice explanation for why five fingers is optimal.
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