Thursday 29 August 2013

Prehensile tail

The other day I was trying to take out the garbage in one hand, the recycling in the other, and open the door with my other hand. Unfortunately, I like everyone else have only two hands. Why is it that when something drops, it isn’t the dry paper and plastic, but the wet, messy garbage? Well, that is the way things work for me. Just for your information, I dropped the garbage a second time trying to open the garage door.
There are a lot of times when I could use a third hand. In fact, there is a tool called a third hand for holding the brakes on a bicycle while you adjust the cable. There is another tool used for soldering which is called a third hand as well, but that one comes with two adjustable alligator clips and a magnifying lens. There are many times in life when a third hand would come in handy. In fact, I suspect that is what is behind the buddy system. Everyone should have a buddy for when you need that extra helping hand.
Journeymen in all trades have known the benefit of having an extra hand while working, that is probably how the apprentice system began. I can remember teaching my kids how to tie their shoe laces, they would handle the loops and I would place a finger to hold the knot in place before the final tie. I always get Louise to put her finger on the crossed ribbons whenever I am getting fancy with Christmas presents. A third hand would be an asset at work as well. You could keep working and either drinks your coffee or play video games with your spare hand. A third hand would help me playing the guitar; God knows the other two are useless.

I was thinking about how handy that third hand would be and wondering why the human race hasn’t had one evolve. Something that useful would certainly be a boon and really, anything that can help me carrying out the garbage would be welcomed. It occurred to me that evolution only seems to work taking things away now. There was a time when a creature would grow a long neck in order to access the tender leaves at the top of a tree. Feathers and wings would evolve to help creatures evade those other creatures that had evolved long, sharp, ripping teeth. When the competition for food in the ocean became too difficult, legs and the ability to breathe air evolved. When survival depends on adaptation, can evolution be far behind?

In humans, evolution seems to be going in reverse. Evolution has pretty much made the appendix obsolete. Whenever they can, surgeons will cut out the appendix just in case there might be something wrong with it at some time in the future. Hell, it might be the organ that controls musical ability or being able to multiply 13 X 13 and come up with the correct answer. 143? I still have my appendix, so maybe it doesn't control math. Perhaps it is the wisdom teeth that control the math thing, and I had mine taken out at an early age.

There are indications that humans used to have a prehensile tail at some point in the past. It was handy for hanging from trees, and giving an extra point for balancing on tree branches, or just whacking someone that pisses you off by stealing your banana. They say that human fetuses have a tail, but it is absorbed into the body before birth. I kind of wish it would grow to become a full fledged usable tail.

I bet it would be handy for opening a door when you have two hands filled with garbage and recycling.

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