Are humans the most dexterous vertebrates?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Oniw17, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. Oniw17 ascetic, sage, diogenes, bum? Valued Senior Member

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    Or if not what is? You have to admit, we can move in a lot of different ways.
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    All of the primates are pretty limber. I wouldn't be surprised if many species, or even most, are more agile than we are. Try chasing a chimpanzee up a tree, much less a monkey.

    Where we excel is in our hands. Only humans can touch our thumb to the tip of all four fingers.

    The big brain gave us the cleverness to invent tools, so the individuals who had the most agile hands and could create the best tools would have had a survival advantage. Better blades gave us the ability to scrape the meat off the bones left over from predator meals, resulting in more protein in our diet, another survival advantage. And the extra protein allowed us to evolve an even bigger brain, now a cycle of survival advantages.
     
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  7. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    What about cephalopods?
    They can even predict the outcomes of football games--now that's dexterity. Shame they're invertebrates, though.
     
  8. Oniw17 ascetic, sage, diogenes, bum? Valued Senior Member

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    Oh shit. Maybe dexterity isn't the right word. Obviously we don't have the strength or the physical tools of some other vertebrates. I meant dexterity in the context which we use when we say facial dexterity. That is: "Are humans able to move in more ways than any other vertebrate?" And I'm fairly sure we are. Proof 1: Like you said, our hands are masterful. Proof 2: /no animal that I'm aware of has half the number of facial expressions we do. Proof 3: /the intricate movements involved in spoken language( if not first we're close in the category of which animal can make the widest variety of sounds. Proof 4: We walk on 2 legs. We do gymnastics, swim, climb(rocks and trees)... And have you seen the things dancers can do these days? We do yoga! Maybe there is some type of monkey that trumps us overall, but I'd be skeptical if you pointed one out to me.
     
  9. Believe Happy medium Valued Senior Member

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    I'm guessing you've never seen a house cat.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Ya think?

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    Hmm. The average chimpanzee is about 2/3 as massive as the average American, yet they are much stronger than us. Nonetheless, I wonder how much of that is due to the average American not developing his musculature because he works in an office, eats food that's already killed and dressed, and never has to outrun or out-fight a predator. Human athletes are quite strong; I wonder how a small gymnast or wrestler would hold up against an average chimpanzee. Probably get the crap kicked out of him, but maybe not have his head ripped off and stuffed up his butt the way you or I would.
    I would never say that phrase, although it is an acceptable use of the word. "Dexterity" comes from the Latin word dexter, "right hand," so for me it's a little incongruous to talk about dexterity in my feet or my lips.
    But all the primates are. The question is, how do we rank among the primates?
    Chimpanzees do quite well. I'm not sure how much of a disadvantage it is not to be able to touch their thumb to their ring finger or pinkie. That's not a motion I do very many times in the average day.

    And I can tell you've never had a parrot. You've never come home and discovered that he disassembled his cage from the inside. It took our macaw only three days to figure out left-hand threaded nuts and bolts.
    We have more than a hundred muscles that move the skin on our face. All or nearly all of our facial expressions are universal, a tremendous advantage when two people meet who don't speak the same language. It was probably an even greater advantage in the era before the technology of language was invented.
    Many of those were already counted in the muscles that form facial expressions. The intricate musculature that controls the shape of our lips plays a role in both speech and non-verbal communication.
    Now I'm positive that you've never had a parrot. Many species of psittacines can duplicate every sound we make, as well as doing them in the voice of every human they share their home with, in addition to the other birds in the house, the dogs, the cars, and ambient sounds.

    We always tell women whose husbands never get around to fixing creaky hinges or squeaky drawers to get a parrot. Once he hears those sounds repeated fifty times every day, thirty decibels louder, he will never put off a household repair again.

    Oh, and our speech ability came with a big price tag. Our larynx migrated way down into our throat. The result is that we can't breathe and swallow at the same time, like most animals can. That makes us uniquely vulnerable to choking to death.
    I don't think that supports your thesis. The adaptation to bipedal walking came with a very high price. For starters consider that the human head is much larger, proportionally, than any other mammal. Other mammals are born with well-developed brains, many literally hit the ground running. For a human baby to be born with a brain at that same stage of development would require the birth canal to be considerably wider than it is.

    This would make the pelvis stick out quite far on both sides. This might be manageable for a quadruped, but we have to be able to put all our weight on one leg, and then quickly transfer it to the other leg. That "rocking couple," as engineers call it, puts tremendous strain on every bone, muscle, tendon and ligament in the region. The bottom line is that it's just not practical. In order to compromise and keep the pelvis within acceptable limits, humans are born with a brain that just barely works at all and continues growing for a much longer time than any other animal. We require parental care for about 1/4 of a (Paleolithic) lifespan, much longer than other animals.

    This cascades into a whole set of other adaptations. Just to pick one, a childhood this long requires the ongoing care of both parents. One of myriad second-order effects of this is that humans are one of very few species of mammals whose females are physically capable of intercourse outside the estrus cycle. Being able to copulate while pregnant, nursing, or just exhausted by child care duties, is a really good way to keep your babies' father around the hearth.

    So bipedal walking: advantage or disadvantage? I'm not sure the votes are all in yet.

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    Most primates are just as good or better at gymnastics and climbing. After all, they have prehensile feet, and all but the apes have tails too! There's a reason they don't allow chimpanzees and orangutans to compete in the Olympics.

    Dancing? Have you seen one percent of the "dancing lemur" YouTube videos?

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    Surely we have more "dexterity" in our hands and faces and mouths than other mammals. But I doubt very much that we're competitive with the rest of our bodies. Why would we be? We don't need it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  11. Kaiser Basileus Registered Member

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    Fitness is being able to manipulate your body through as wide a range of circumstances as possible. Dexterity is a subset of that, meaning either flexibility or manipulation skills.

    Humans have greater manipulation skills but maybe the average gorilla has greater physical dexterity or something. No doubt those Chinese girls are closer to an invertebrate than a gorilla.

    But what about the humble ferret?
     
  12. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    And where is there solid evidence ANY ferret has EVER exhibited true humility? You might consider rewording #8 to avoid - you know - creating misunderstandings leading to a humiliating experience.

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    I guess you are really referring to e.g. ferrets squeezing through 'impossibly' narrow tubes as part of ferret race contests. Or something entirely different?
     
  13. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

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    Thread necromancy and racism all in one. Unless the racist shit was unintended you should be removed.
     
  14. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe your post has led to a reflex action mod instant ban of presumed 'foul racist scum'. To be honest I never read it that way, and simply thought the 'comparison' between Chinese female gymnasts and gorillas based on 'closeness to vertebrate' was a confused misunderstanding on the part of newbie Kaiser Basileus. All members of a very wide range of animal species fall under that category equally:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertebrate
    A multicellular animal/insect species is either vertebrate or invertebrate - period.
    He should at the very least be given a chance to clarify exactly what was intended, before taking aim and firing on the basis of guilty till proven innocent.
     
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Invertebrate is not a handicap in context of dexterity or agility.

    Cephalopoda
    An octopus can crawl through any opening that is big enough to allow its beak to pass through.
     
  16. Kaiser Basileus Registered Member

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    Obviously humble ferrets are spiritually flexible too!
     
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  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Dexterity generally refers to he manipulation of objects and tools; control of the hands; hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor skills.
    All the primates are very good at this. Monkeys may have an advantage over us in close work with small components: our finger are quite fat in comparison. Some of the rodents are pretty handy, too, as are raccoons. Overall, I'll award the coveted golden digit to capuchin monkeys
     
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Well I'd like to see a monkey do this. For that matter, I'd like to see a human do this!

    Unscrew a lid from the outside


    Unscrew a lid from the inside.
     
  19. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, just noticed the OP states "vertebrates." My bad....

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