Why do we have Fingers? - Skeletons
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Why do we have Fingers?

Human finger bones
Human finger bones

The first fingers and toes evolved from earlier fish fins about 400 million years ago. During the Devonian period, the oceans were very shallow, and some fish evolved to be able to push themselves out of the water to breathe the air. For this, they needed stronger fins that they could push up with. At first these fish had eight fingers and eight toes on each leg.

Probably the way they got the fingers and toes was that a few fish sperm or eggs had genetic mutations of their DNA during meiosis. This left their Hox genes turned on a little bit longer, so their fins grew longer and branched more.

Later they learned to use their fins to walk around in the shallow puddles which were hard to swim in. Fingers and toes helped them to balance as they were walking around in the water.

When the first lungfish began walking, all those fingers and toes just got in the way and made it hard to walk, so they gradually evolved to lose those toes and fingers until they got down to five, which was more useful. That's what most humans have. Other mammals lost even more toes and fingers, and developed hooves or paws instead.

Bibliography and further reading about skeletons:

Vertebrae
Biology
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 20 July, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT