Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another Almost-Story

Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay titled "The Panda's Thumb".  It's about how evolution tends to work by 'making do' with what's available, rather than building a new organ or part from scratch.  The example he used was how a panda seems to have six digits on each front paw, but what looks like a thumb is actually a wrist bone that's been pressed into service as a tool for stripping leaves off bamboo stalks.  That bone, called the radial sesamoid, is a small part of the wrist joint in most mammals, but in pandas it's been greatly enlarged so that it sticks out at an angle from the rest of the digits, just like a human's thumb.

A possible alternate title I considered for this post was 'The Boasting Panda'.  An illustration in cloud of a story of a character telling a story about himself.


Related Posts:  An Almost-Story2 Creatures

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