Why do most mammals have 5 fingers?

If you look at the paws of a cat, a dog or even a kangaroo, you’ll notice they have something in common with our hands. Even if some might be shrunken or differently positioned, all of these mammals have five digits, or fingers. Why do we share this pattern with our furry friends, even though we evolved under different conditions?

To answer the question of why mammals have five fingers, we must first understand why tetrapod (Greek for “four-footed”) vertebrates have five fingers. Mammals belong to the superclass Tetrapoda, which also includes reptiles, amphibians and birds. Even members of this group without traditional limbs have five fingers in their skeleton — whales, seals and sea lions have five fingers in their flippers — even if they have four or fewer toes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *