Blow Your Mind: Five-fingered Evolutionary Discount

BY Robert Lamb / POSTED April 15, 2011
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Like most cartoon characters, the Simpsons all have four fingers (except for God, as listener Deming pointed out to us on Twitter) while us humans have five. Why is that? Why five and not, say, six or two?

In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I turn our attention to our own fleshy keyboard paddles to ask why so many creatures evolved with a five-fingered discount.

Plus, how are fingers and human reproduction intertwined? Why do some animals get by with less? And what do fingers have to do with the way our economy is constructed — turns out just about everything.

Oh, and Julie talks about her super-blond rockstar Doppelganger in this one. Tune in for that.

Plus, other recent episodes of Stuff to Blow Your Mind include the following:

Neuromyths
We all know the myth that we use only 10 percent of our brains, but do you know how we know it’s a myth in the first place? We interview neurosurgeon Dr. T. Glenn Pait and find out how neuroscience is radically changing the way we think about the three pounds or so of gray matter sitting atop of our necks.

Does your dog really love you?
We all love our pets, but just what does the dog get out of this curious arrangement? Julie and I find out what man’s best friend thinks about the relationship. Where does animal affection end and groundless anthropomorphism begin? It’s not that your pet doesn’t care, but let’s just say “love” is a pretty strong word for it.

So there you have it! As always, you can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed. And don’t forget the free HowStuffWorks iPhone App.

Skull still intact? Follow Robert and Julie for more mind-blowing science on Twitter and Facebook.

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