General Question

interalex's avatar

Is better for humans to have 5 than 4 fingers?

Asked by interalex (130points) January 6th, 2012

How would be our development, our civilization, technology etc if we had 4 fingers?
I wonder if it would be better in terms of comprehension of “one”, “oneness”, “whole” and “infinity”, as all the numbers resulting by repetition of 1 (one) and/or doubling the result gives us the same result e.g. 1X2 = 4X2 =8, 8X2 =16, 16X2 =32 and so on indefinitely

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13 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

Take a look at your fingers. You only have four of them on each hand. And two thumbs, one on each hand. : ))

zenvelo's avatar

There’s a strong likelihood we would use base 8 for numbering.

I am not understanding what your second paragraph is about. What does doubling numbers have to do with anything?

cookieman's avatar

We would all wear puffy white gloves with three little black lines on the back.

marinelife's avatar

Without and opposable thumb, we would have a lot of problems grasping things.

suncatt's avatar

Pretty uncomfortable to play the piano!

cazzie's avatar

It couldn’t be four. Four is an anomaly when it comes to digit development. (of course, this is coming from someone who was born with 6 toes on each foot, so what do I know?)

Nullo's avatar

You can choose not to use the fifth finger, but you can’t choose to use the fifth finger that you don’t have.

Mariah's avatar

If having four fingers was better, we would have four fingers. Natural selection is cool like that.

HungryGuy's avatar

Right. What @Mariah said. Evolution has decided that 5 fingers is the optimum number.

Nullo's avatar

But evolution doesn’t work like that. Leastways that’s what they’d yell at me when I said what you guys have. They’d always say that selection favors a solution that works, not the best solution.

Mariah's avatar

I’m by no means the expert on this, but as natural selection is all about beating out the competition, I would think that eventually we would trend towards the optimum solution because a better solution will tend to be more successful than one that just “works.” Feel free to correct me if I am mistaken.

zenvelo's avatar

Given that pentadactyl animals are back quite a ways in the evolutionary chain, it’s hard to say what is optimum. Although toothed whales have five digits, baleen whales only have four. Why would that be advantageous?

Similarly, canines have five digits, but one is way up the leg and contributes nothing.

I like @cazzie‘s explanation that it’s all based on Fibonacci numbers.

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