Saturday, October 08, 2005

“The Long Finger of Life”

CALL ME SLOW: I am the original "hunh?" kind of learner. I entered this post in the Virginia Carnival of Bloggers and obediently posted the link when they put up the entries the following Monday. Ummm...I should have linked here, on the original post, so people could find it, not HERE, on its own separate post where no one would see it if they linked to the post I entered.

Follow the link for my thoughts on the first entry to the Virginia Carnival. I'm sure I'll do others when I recover from my idjit attack...doh.

Mother always said it was a good thing I'm cute.

Michael Jordan's handIn the interest of increasing your knowledge of science, today we give you “The Long Finger of Life.” The information presented here is a subchapter from Chapter Six of The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture. You may decide for yourself what the author, Matt Ridley (he of Genome fame), means exactly by “turns on.” Mr. Ridley has a sly sense of humor so you are free to interpret the meaning as pleases or amuses you.

At this point, if you are male, examine your fingers. The index finger and the ring finger, to be precise. For our purposes, the other fingers may be omitted from the discussion. In women, these two fingers — index and ring — are usually the same length (though, I will have to admit that my female ring finger is a bit longer than my index finger. We may jump to our own conclusions about that at another time).

A scientist named John Manning reports his interesting hypothesis in, among other journals, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, that for most men their ring finger is longer than their index finger. The difference in size, according to Manning, is an indication of the level of prenatal testosterone exposure. Thus, the more testosterone, the longer the ring finger. Ridley claims that this has a good biological explanation: the hox genes, which control the growth of the genitalia, also control the length of digits, and he says
the subtle difference in the timing of events in the womb probably leads to subtly different finger lengths.
Subtle, huh? I suppose that's one term you could apply to this information.

And if Manning’s measurements of the ring finger give us some indications regarding in utero testosterone exposure…umm, so what?

Well, it seems that the guys with long ring fingers -— i.e., high testosterone —- are at greater risk for autism, dyslexia, stammering and immune dysfunction. And they are also more likely to father sons. The short ring finger fellows, while somewhat safer from stammering, are left with a higher risk of heart disease and infertility.

One time Manning used his hypothesis to predict the outcome of a race. Since testosterone is a strong factor in male muscle, Manning predicted that the man with the longest ring finger would win the race. And he did.

The point of all this? Check the ring fingers on the contenders who are running in the next Olympics before you make your illegal bets. Shortens the odds a bit to have this digital information.

I promise, I'll never tell anyone how you won your millions (however, blogging being what it is, a small finder's fee would not be unwelcome).


At 9:17 AM, Blogger hank_F_M said...


No wonder I’m confused.

On the right hand the ring finger is longer and on the left it is about same or a trifle shorter

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

This article had me checking my husband's fingers. In spite of the shorter ring fingers, he's dyslexic. What does this mean?

Another puzzlement: My ring fingers are definitely longer. Hmmm...

What about middle toes? LOL.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger ian h said...

I'm not sure if I just have freakishly long index fingers. They seem to be nearly as long as my middle finger so my ring finger is definitely shorter.
So this means I was oestrogen swamped as a foetus?

p.s. F.Y.I. i'm male


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