A Simple Slice of Science – Why do we have five fingers?

This week’s questions comes from the youngest junior scientist in the Science Wows household and he wants to know…

Why do we have five fingers?


As it is National Maths Week Dr. Simple is happy to be talking numbers.




1. Why do most species have five digits on their hands and feet?

2. What if our hands had six fingers?

3. Why do we have ten fingers?





Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!

5 thoughts on “A Simple Slice of Science – Why do we have five fingers?

  • October 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Fascinating! (As all of these Dr. Simple posts are) I love the fact about the10 digit base too. It’s a revelation!!

  • October 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I thought it was for counting. 🙂 Actually I wonder if in years to come our fingers will modify if technology continues to require us to text or type so regularly instead of manual labour.

    • October 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Ha good point Tric, they may become very narrow to stop all our texting errors 🙂

  • October 16, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    That’s really interesting – I like the idea that we have a base 10 numerical system for that reason – makes perfect sense!

    • October 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Office Mum, yes it does when it is pointed out alright. Apparently we learn and adapt much better to any system that mimics nature (reference 2 above)

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