Foot Thumbs

Foot ThumbMy wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen and I were watching Discovery HD Theater’s “Planet Earth” series last night. The topic of last night’s episode was “jungles.” In it, there was a whole segment on a chimpanzee clan. (Sigourney Weaver referred to the group as a “posse.” Is that the correct name for a bunch of chimps, like a murder of crows or a pod of dolphins? Maybe tomorrow we can talk about Collective Nouns and decide on a good one for chimps.) (Hey, is it totally weird that a) Sigourney Weaver narrates the show, b) Sigourney Weaver was in “Gorillas in the Mist” and c) I’m talking about Sigourney Weaver talking about apes?) (Oh man, what was I even writing about?) (OH YEAH!)

Now, I’ve always known that chimps have an opposable thumb on their foot, but last night I really started to consider this. First, let’s make a giant leap – I am going to assume that you subscribe to the theory of evolution. (Which you probably do…unless you are from the US or Turkey according to a Michigan State study.)

Genetics tells us that chimps are human’s closest relative. According to evolution then, there is a more than likely chance we share a common ancestor with chimps. This next part is pure guessing because I am getting tired of researching this, but we are going to accept it as true – said common ancestor had a foot thumb, which was totally awesome and useful.

Here’s what I started wondering – why did evolution whittle out our foot thumb and leave us with a big toe? I understand that the big toe is crucial to out bipedicular locomotion, but was that worth giving up a foot thumb? I say, “NO!”

In a survival of the fittest, natural selection-style world, imagine how sweet a foot thumb would be. It’s uses would be unlimited. Here are a few that I am going come up with just off the top of my head:

  • More intricate juggling tricks
  • Be able to scratch even more places
  • Quadruple-fist it (granted this is geared mostly to the Irish)
  • Double jazz hands
  • Sucker punch someone (instead of kicking)
  • Tie your shoes (This one is a bit tricky, because I’m not sure we’d still where shoes and you’d only be able to tie one shoe with the un-shoed foot, then you have to use your hands to tie the other shoe. But it’s still a skill we currently don’t have.)
  • Work the remote straight from the coffee table (Seriously, how annoying is it to have to bend all the way over, pick it up and then lean all the way back? Am I right?)
  • Still be able to give someone a “Super Thumb” when you hands are otherwise occupied

And just for the record, a Google image search for “chimp foot” turns up more pictures of President Bush (#43) than it does actual chimp’s feet. Maybe Michigan State needs to do a study on that!

Dear Evolution,

I appreciate your need to tinker and experiment, but the big toe is a failure. I want my foot thumb back, pronto.



P.S. – Nice work on the Okapi. NOT! Dude, did you get confused? Or did you start it forever ago and then decided to finish it much, much later after you’d forgotten where you left off?

Dear Intelligent Designer,

No foot thumb? Not so smart now, are you Chucklehead?



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