For one of my tentacled alien species designs I was considering tentacle like fingers, even though an intelligent creature with many tentacle appendages could achieve a good level of dexterity and tool usage, fingers seem to be better for fine detailed tasks.

The creature I have in mind is land dwelling tentacled creature with addition finger like tentacles at the end of each main tentacle appendage, all tentacles will be more like a prehensile tail, so they are capable of bending backwards or sideways and grasping with the same strength as grasping forwards.

Even though the creature I mentioned already has tentacle limbs, this tentacle fingers idea could also be used with other limb types if it was actually beneficial. My criteria for beneficial is to be able to create and use advanced human levels of technology.

My question is would having tentacle fingers for the uses I have given be more useful than tentacles alone or normal digits?


1 Answer 1


Fine motor skills come from the number of muscles which control one single junction. Because it is easier for the brain to control one single point but with higher precision than controlling many different ones with no precision.

This is why it is hard to rub your head and pat your belly at the same time but drawing or writing is easy.

We humans do not need fingers to do fine motor skills, actually it is incredibly hard to have dexterity in ones fingers, but dexterity In the wrist is innate and natural. We draw, drink, eat, work....with our wrists not fingers.

The wrist is is directly controlled by 16 muscles and rotated or aided by other 4 muscles. It is the single joint controlled by the most muscles and the single joint with the best levers for strength. While each finger is controlled by a different strand of the same 4 muscles, 2 for bending and 2 for extending them...oh and there's also those small muscles in the palm which open abduct and adduct the fingers.

If you want your creatures to be dexterous, fingers are not needed. The old saying " we are intelligent because we have opposable tumbs" is just an old myth with no scientific credit to it. An animal can have dexterity with whatever means they have to grasp things be it fingers, jaws, beaks, talons or even tentacles.

  • $\begingroup$ To give further proof, adults use keyboards by tipping one key at once with their index and they have to learn from 0 how to instead write with finger taps instead of using their wrist. While on the other hand, it is natural and inate for children to pick up crayons and draw on walls using their wrists. $\endgroup$
    – user76358
    Jun 9, 2020 at 12:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Just look at octopuses. No fingers whatsoever, can still open jars, hold tools, take pictures (yes they trained an octopus to take pictures), walk around, escape their aquariums and more (plus they're already seen as part of the smartest animals in the world). $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2020 at 13:12

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