Why do we have thumbs?

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By looking at your hand, it’s pretty easy to see that your thumbs are different from the rest of your fingers. The name for one of the biggest differences between your thumb and your other four fingers is that your thumbs are opposable, which is the name for the quality that helps you to pick up and grasp things!

It might not sound very fancy, but lots of animals don’t have this opposable finger and cannot grasp things the way we do. The most important thing we get from grasp is probably the ability to use tools. The use of tools has made it possible for humans to do everything from creating fire for cooking food and making warmth, to building homes and shelters, to learning how to write!

The other main animals who have thumbs are primates such as monkeys and apes. Most scientific theories say that humans evolved from early primates, so it makes sense that we would all share this trait in common, even though the thumbs of most primates remained a little more basic than ours. Like lots of other qualities in lots of other animals, we probably evolved to have such handy thumbs because it was more beneficial to have them than not!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Thumbs Up!
    What are some of the most important things you do with your hands that would be harder or impossible to do without thumbs? Think about trying to just simply turn a doorknob with no thumbs – it would probably be a lot harder than it sounds!
    Think back to the very first humans and what kinds of things they might have been doing which would have been easier for them to do with thumbs than without. Hunting, fishing, and making clothes are all really good examples! – Can you think of any others??
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