Twist it, bend it, shake it, but break it not!

If you take a good critical look at hands, you will find the answer; I am the thumb! You will notice that the thumb is in the opposite direction. The question is why? The reason is simple; to enable us to hold on to something and grip tightly to it without losing contact with it.

Riddle: Who I am I? You can do all the above to me but I will remain the same. Clue: I am found on your body.

If you take a good critical look at hands, you will find the answer; I am the thumb! You will notice that the thumb is in the opposite direction. The question is why? The reason is simple; to enable us to hold on to something and grip tightly to it without losing contact with it. The opposable thumb can move to in the opposite direction of the hand and two, it can touch all the fingers on the hand.

This movable thumb also makes it possible to pick up things, eat with one hand and form a sort of bowl that closes with our hands as well as being able to make a firm handshake! Can you imagine what it would be like to do something as basic as greeting someone without a flexible thumb (especially if you were Deaf and had to use Sign Language – the basic greeting uses both signs pointing up to indicate all is well). How could sports that require equipment possibly be played? A hockey stick, baseball bat, golf sticks (is that its name?) would probably be tough to handle. What about simple instruments such as a pencil or pen? This flexibility is truly amazing you will totally agree with me.

Although some primates share this phenomenal thumb with the human family it is not as versatile as ours. Chimpanzees, gorillas, Koala bears and other animals employ their opposable thumbs to do a multitude of tasks just like humans. Clutching on to tree branches as they eat or play, swinging from one tree to another, picking up tools such as sticks or stones is all made possible by the magical thumb. One unlikely animal is the arboreal frog which uses its thumb to thumb to hold on to tree branches as it climbs them.

If you think that an opposable thumb is the coolest thing, you have another think coming. Animals such as the apes have an additional advantage which is the opposable big toe that allows them to cling tightly to trees or any surface effectively. Now you know how they are able to hold on for a longer time without getting tired in spite of their massive body weight.

Truly interesting!

Lois Nakibuuka
is an educator and counsellor
lnakibuuka@yahoo.com

 

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