It is a mystery of how a human hand is remarkably different from that of other animals. The hand is, of course, the most notable feature with smaller palm, shorter fingers, and a significantly strong thumb. The most striking feature we can notice of our hand is the thumb that can comfortably and correctly oppose each finger of the same side.
We can’t know the 100% factors that led to the evolution of hands, but we do have some theory around it.
Evolution of human hands
It is not clear when the human hand exactly appeared. Much before the recent discovery, the consensus was found to be 800,000 years old. After finding a metacarpal with a lump at the base that dates back to 1.4 million years ago has left scientists in wonder whether the modern hand evolved earlier. It is said that the hands of our ancestors before millions of years were much like those of modern chimpanzees, whose fingers are much longer, whereas thumbs are much weaker and smaller. These types of hands work well for hooking onto horizontal supports like tree branches, but they can quickly lose their grip. It could happen while waving a stick and has little precision or strength while attempting to pinch or squeeze.
More about the human hand
In comparison to poor-gripping and awkward paws, our hands have much shorter fingers and palm. The tips of our fingers have strong supportive bones on top, which are broad, have fatty pads and are sensitive that can accommodate well on uneven surfaces. The palm has added fatty pads that provide further protection to the hands and are useful in gripping. The bases of the second finger, third finger, and the thumb have all been strengthened to withstand more significant stress—the thumb. It has three muscles attached, which could not be seen in chimpanzees. These are the flexor pollicis brevis, first volar interosseous, and flexor pollicis longu. These all together make a thumb stronger alongside certain modifications to joints allowing for full comfortable opposability.
The reason behind the change in the human hand
Many researchers have focused upon several theories directing to explain why these changes occurred. One of the most popular is that a more reliable, better, and more excellent grip was needed for making better tools. Those who have such a grip had an advantage in this way. Usage of stone tools could be dated back to about 3.4 million years ago, and from about 1.7 million years ago, refined tools like cleavers and axes had appeared. It is possible that even after millions of years later, these tools would come out more sophisticated as we can see now how they have changed over the years.
Another quite similar theory holds that our hands evolved so that we could get an advantage it provides in clubbing and throwing things accurately. Scientists, in support of this hypothesis, has said that there are two main gripping actions of a human hand: one that holds with power and one that grasps with precision. The example of precision can be best illustrated as the way a pitcher holds a baseball, while the power grip can be seen in the way a man holds an axe.
Many facts and theories are surfacing around, and still, scientists are trying hard to get a precise result of the reason why the human hand has different fingers all together. But from the facts above, it is clear that these are God’s gifts to humans so that we can work effectively and efficiently. Different size of fingers and a strong thumb with paddy palm altogether makes a perfect human hand.