10 Animals With Opposable Thumb

Animals With Opposable Thumb Gorilla and Orangutan

In the vast animal kingdom, there are an exclusive number of creatures that possess remarkable features, such as opposable thumbs. However, it has been known for a long time that humans are not the only species on Earth with opposable thumbs, but many of us are pretty confused about it.  

Do animals also possess this characteristic? What kind of animals have opposable thumbs? The answer is Yes.

A large number or variety of species have opposable thumbs. Not only apes, monkeys, and mammals, but animals like chameleons and frogs also have opposable thumbs. 

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Now a question might be twirling in your mind, what exactly is an opposable thumb? Why is it so special? 

An opposable thumb is a thumb that can be placed opposite the fingers and allows individuals to grasp and handle objects. Humans have opposable thumbs that can rotate, flex, and touch the tips of their fingers. It may not seem very special- but it is because most animals are not able to rotate their thumbs and can flex them in only one direction.

 Opposable thumbs enable you to grasp, hold and manipulate objects: activities that are quite rare to be seen in most animal species. 

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Well, humans come first in this list but let’s take a look at other animal species with opposable thumbs. Prepare to be amazed as we dive into the extraordinary world of animals equipped with opposable thumbs. 

 

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  • BaboonBaboon

Baboons are among the most commonly known members of the Old World Monkey Family, found across Sub-Saharan Africa. Their existence has been there for the last two million years.

They also have opposable thumbs and use their thumbs to grasp and manipulate objects with remarkable precision. These primates employ their dextrous thumbs to forage for food, groom one another, and navigate their challenging savannah habitats. 

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  • ChimpanzeesChimpanzee

Chimpanzee is a species of great ape native to the forest and savannah of Tropical Africa.

Chimpanzees have always been popular for their intelligence, social structures, and human-like traits such as opposable thumbs. They have been recorded using tools, modifying sticks, rocks, leaves, grass, and branches, and using them to hunt and acquire honey, ants, and termites. All these tasks are not possible by using the opposable thumb. 

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You’d be surprised to know that this animal species have also been found creating sharpened sticks to spear small mammals.

Their opposable thumb enables them to use different tools for extracting termites, cracking nuts, and grabbing objects skillfully. Now it’s not difficult to believe how dexterous they are in performing various tasks.

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  • Gorillas (the largest living primates)Gorilla

Gorillas are herbivorous and inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. They are ground-dwelling apes and are the next closest living relatives to humans after chimpanzees and bonobos. Interestingly, the DNA of gorillas is extremely similar to that of humans. 

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Now you can easily guess that they also have opposable thumbs. Gorillas do not rely on their thumbs to the same extent as humans, but they use their thumbs for various tasks, including grasping plants and branches to eat and climb. It’s important to note that their hand anatomy is different from that of humans as they have shorter thumbs, which are less mobile and as precisely manipulative as human thumbs. 

 

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  • BonoboBonobo

Bonobos are closely related to Chimpanzees and use their thumbs to perform a variety of tasks, including cracking open nuts, peeling fruits, and manipulating objects, which is impossible without having an opposable thumb. This African species also utilizes its thumb to communicate with fellows.

 

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  • OrangutansOrangutans

Orangutans are great apes with opposable thumbs and are native to the rainforest of Malaysia and Indonesia. Their strong thumbs help them navigate the dense rainforest canopy, swing from high branches and construct nests for resting. 

 

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  • Chameleons

Chameleons

While opposable thumbs are typically associated with primates, there are a few surprising exceptions, and Chameleons are one of them. Chameleons range across the world and are well-known for their camouflage property. It might sound strange but this camouflage technique would not be impossible without the use of opposable thumbs.

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These reptiles have unique opposable thumbs on their feet. This thumb-like structure allows them to have a firmer grip on branches, aiding in their exceptional climbing and escaping skills. 

 

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  • Giant Pandas

  • Giant Pandas

Everyone is familiar with Pandas, as they are considered the cutest creatures in the world. Pandas are prominently found throughout the bamboo forests of Southwest China. They can be easily recognized due to their black and white fur which also allows them to blend perfectly in the snow-covered mountains of their range.

What makes Pandas more interesting is that they have opposable thumbs on their paws. This helps them to grip branches and climb high on tall bamboo trees to get their food. Moreover, their thumb can also be rotated as one of the humans so, they can act in a similar way as humans do.

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  • KoalasKoala

Koalas are arboreal herbivorous animals native to Australia. They are mainly found in coastal areas, inhabiting New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia. It can be recognized easily by its stout, tailless body, large head, round fluffy ears, and spoon-shaped nose.

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Their curved and sharp claws are well adapted to climb trees. Most excitingly, their forepaws have two opposable thumbs, which are opposable to the other three, unlike any other animal species. It enables them to firmly grasp small branches. They also have an opposable toe on each foot, which led them to be in the world record for having six opposable digits. 

 

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  • LemursLemur

Lemurs are prominently found on the island of Madagascar and some other islands off the coast of Africa. Lemurs are small animals with pointed snouts, large eyes, and a long tail. The most exciting thing is that they dwell in trees and are active at night.

Lemurs are divided into around 100 existing species, the smallest of which is just 3 inches in length whereas others are several feet tall.

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As per research, Lemurs have pseudo-opposable thumbs, which means almost opposable but not quite. Like other primates, they use their thumbs for holding or grasping branches and manipulating food and other things in the wild. 

 

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  • Virginia OpossumVirginia Opossum

The Virginia Opossum is also known as the North American Opossum, the only marsupial in North America. They are solitary nocturnal animals carrying young in a pouch like a Kangaroo and have the size of a domestic cat. 

Virginia Opossums have chiefly prehensile tails and opposable thumbs on their hind feet. This especially occupied tail and opposable thumb aid them in climbing trees to hunt. Surprisingly the opposable thumb is devoid of nails or claws.

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Opposable Thumbs are not limited to primates, apes, and old-world monkey families, they are also found in different kinds of species of animals. However, most commonly they are found in primates due to their habitat. Apart from the aforementioned animals, there are numerous other animals that have opposable thumbs, such as White-cheeked gibbons, Waxy Monkey Tree Frog, Sugar Gliders, Siamang Gibbon, etc. 

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The presence of opposable thumbs or thumb-like structures in animals highlights the remarkable adaptability and ingenuity of nature. 

 

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