Stephen Jay Gould was amazed by the Panda's dexterity. "They held the stalks of bamboo in their paws and stripped off the leaves by passing the stalks between an apparently flexible thumb and the remaining fingers. But the thumb is not a finger at all. It is made from a wrist bone and equipped with muscles to sustain its agility.
If a man were to make a machine for some special purpose, but were to use old wheels. springs, and pulleys, only slightly altered, the whole machine, with all its parts, might be said to be specially contrived for that purpose.
We may not be flattered by the metaphor of refurbished wheels and pulleys, but consider how well we work. Nature is, in biologist Francois Jacob's words, an excellent tinkerer, not a divine artificer. And who shall sit in judgment between these exemplary skills?"
Storyteller: Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard University.
The Panda's Thumb by Stephen Jay Gould
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