So I have this 3-2 1/2 feet tall humanoid species called Pinokiins that as of the time of typing have 3 fingers(thumb included) and toes on their hands and feet instead of 5. Is this a negative thing? Could they still have as much dexterity as humans? Could they play the same instruments as we do and as good? Could they make detailed drawings and paintings like us? Could they still have the same grip as us? They tend to go on all 4s when they run or travel long distances on foot as they have arms as long as their legs and are hunched over alot, so would having 12 digits in-all instead of 20 make this difficult to do?

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    $\begingroup$ A hand for walking on is not going to be very good a grabbing, they require vert different shapes. That is going to have a much much bigger effect than the number of fingers. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 21 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @John Well their hands are human-like, minus 2 fingers. $\endgroup$ – Conan Highwoods Jan 21 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ If a human tried to habitually walk on their hands they would almost certainly end up dislocating a finger. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 21 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ They would have extreme difficulty responding to a "High Five" $\endgroup$ – PcMan Jan 22 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Probably just a more extreme case of those unfortunate people who only have 5 fingers left (per hand). But I think what you find is that when people do have fewer digits (injury/amputation, birth defects, whatever) they tend to adapt as best as they can, often spectacularly/surprisingly well, but individual results vary. $\endgroup$ – TOOGAM Jan 22 at 11:42

Three fingers can produce all the necessary grips the only one that really suffers is the clutch grip, (AKA ball grip, AKA sphere grip, AKA ect. grip), but it still works it is just not as good, and almost half of the other possible hand grips only use three fingers anyway. A lot of the most important tasks (like stone knapping) depend more on the wrist than the fingers.

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Grip strength depends on the muscles on the arm not the number of fingers, three fingers may actually end up being stronger since you can have thicker finger bones and tendons in the same area.


A hand with three fingers is just about the minimum needed for the tasks humans use our hands for. I was once informed by a historical reenactor that early modern armies mandated that their soldiers have at least three functional digits per hand. (Recruiting standards back then were lower, to say the least.)

Tools, musical instruments, et cetera would need to be designed a bit differently to accommodate a non-human hand structure. Playing a harp, for example, or typing on a keyboard would be harder with fewer fingers.

If these creatures walk on their hands, they likely have a gorilla-like body plan. Knuckle-walking evolved multiple times in Earth's history, as it's the easiest way to have a foot that works both as a load-bearing element and a hand.

  • $\begingroup$ Could they do without the knuckle walking if they are lighter and smaller then most humans? They are only 3 foot tall at max, and weight just as much, if not less, then a 3 year old when full grown. @Karst $\endgroup$ – Conan Highwoods Jan 22 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ It might be doable, but curling up the hands when they walk on them would still help keep the palms/fingers from getting too calloused. $\endgroup$ – Karst Jan 22 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods it is unlikely they could do both effectively the problem is how far toe fingers have to flex, to walk on them effectively the fingers should be fairly stiff to prevent dislocation and a little flexed forward, while for grip fingers need to be flexible and with a wide range of movement. they literally require the exact opposite adaptations. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 22 at 14:07

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