Opposable Thumbs On Cats And Dogs?

I had gotten tired of listening to the news about the on-going implosion of the United States due to a certain man in Washington, so I tapped the tuning button on the radio to find a different radio station. That’s when a peculiar listener participation discussion appeared. The topic was “What if cats and dogs had opposable thumbs?”

The banter was friendly and light-hearted as various absurd scenarios were offered by people calling in to the show. The announcer said he believed that cats would have become the dominant species on the planet if they had evolved with opposable thumbs and that packs of dogs would have better means to manifest their creativity.

I pondered the cats in my life and wondered about domestic cats in general. They are aggressive creatures that are prone to violence. If cats were equipped with opposable thumbs, I doubt that we would enjoy relationships with them. It seems that feline violence would be even more efficient and effective than it already is. Unsupervised and stray cats account for a lot of carnage in our neighborhoods and the countryside even without opposable thumbs.

Even though I like domestic house cats because they’re so adorable, I’m a bit leery of them because they can be destructive, too. Couple their present behavior with opposable thumbs and I don’t think such cats could even be domesticated.

Dogs present different possibilities because they have been selectively bred from a wolf species. Wolf behavior differs from wildcat behavior in that wolves tend to be more social creatures. It’s easier to imagine a dachshund with opposable thumbs on its forepaws being bred to be better at flushing out badgers and other burrowing creatures.

Of course canines can more easily be trained to perform many useful duties for us. What about seeing eye dogs with opposable thumbs? They would be even better at aiding sight-impaired humans in street traffic. Imagine how they could be trained to press crosswalk buttons. They would be able to grasp doorknobs and open doors for their humans.

We humans can be thankful that our hands evolved with opposable thumbs. There is a direct link between our thumbs and the development of tools. The combination of our ability to invent things like hammers, saws, screwdrivers, and heavy equipment have enabled us to construct houses and buildings. The ability to hold paintbrushes, chisels, and so forth have helped in the development of the fine arts.

What could dogs do and create if they had opposable thumbs on their forepaws? What if they had opposable thumbs on all four like many apes and monkeys? Chimpanzees and gorillas are blessed with opposable thumbs on all four hands. Imagine what it would be like if we humans were so equipped. Our world might look radically different than the one we have created for ourselves now.

If our human world is different than it would have been without our opposable thumbs, the cat and dog worlds would be much different if they had evolved with opposable thumbs, too.

Ciao
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes painter Marc Chagall. “The fingers must be educated, the thumb is born knowing.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Meanderings, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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