Friday, May 15, 2009

The Panda's Thumb

The panda has an odd forelimb arrangement which it uses to handle and eat bamboo.
It has the normal five digits, none of which are opposable to each other. In addition, it also possesses a unique enlargement of two wrist bones which, in effect, gives it seven ‘fingers’.
These two ‘digits’ come into play whenever the panda uses them to grasp the bamboo in a pincer-like movement of the ‘digits’. Owing to the superficial resemblance of one of the enlarged-wrist-bone ‘digits’ to the human thumb, this appendage has commonly been called the panda’s ‘thumb’.

Stephen Jay Gould's dysteleological argument:
Dysteleological arguments are nothing more than smokescreens designed to hide the failures of naturalistic explanations by changing the subject. In like manner, it should be noted that little time is spent providing solid evidence of how the panda, the panda’s presumed ancestors, the ancestors of the ancestors, and the first life were all supposed to have evolved.

Dr. Paul Nelson makes the following comment: "Although the panda's thumb may be suboptimal for many tasks (such as typing), it does seem suited for what appears to be its usual function, stripping bamboo."
The authors of The Giant Pandas of Wolong comment as follows:
The panda can handle bamboo stems with great precision, by holding them as if with forceps in the hairless groove connecting the pad of the first digit and pseudothumb. . . When watching a panda eat leaves. . . we were always impressed by its dexterity. Forepaws and mouth work together with great precision, with great economy of motion

Stephen Gould’s famous critique has been contradicted by the work of six Japanese biologists. Gould once argued that the giant panda’s thumb represents a clumsily adapted wrist bone, not the work of a Designer. A number of rebuttals to Gould’s assertion have been published since the mid-1980s when it appeared, but the most rigorous to date comes from a Japanese study published early in 1999.

1) Panda thumbs its nose at the dysteleological arguments of the atheist Stephen Jay Gould by John Woodmorappe - (

2) Jettison the Arguments, or the Rule? The Place of Darwinian Theological Themata in Evolutionary Reasoning by Dr. Paul A. Nelson - (

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