I mean really. Just take a moment. Inspect those buggers. Put 'em up in front of your face, twist 'em around a little bit, bend those fingers. Truly, a remarkable tool.
And our hands are remarkable not just because they can fly over a keyboard and create hilarious commentary (I'm talking about me; I'm hilarious), but also because they -- and I'm talking the universal they -- can make a guitar sing, can hammer a nail, can turn an empty canvas into a work of art.
They can also do something else, something our more hirsute cousins in the animal kingdom can't do: Make a fist.
That's right. Monkeys and apes of all shapes and sizes, from orangutans to gorillas, chimpanzees to marmosets, can't make a fist. They might be strong and fast and agile, but punch like Marvelous Marvin Hagler, they cannot do.
And this simple fact may be the reason we're who we are, and apes and monkeys are who they are.
A long, long time ago in this galaxy - on this planet, even -- us monkey-type folks made a fist and fought our way through the evolutionary ladder, according to a University of Utah study.
As our forefathers (foremonkeys?) evolved, "an individual who could strike with a clenched fist could hit harder without injuring themselves, so they were better able to fight for mates and thus more likely to reproduce," said University of Utah biology professor David Carrier, the senior author of the study, in last month's Journal of Experimental Biology.
In short: We were able to kick some monkey butt with our fists, and as we evolved, so did our hands. Virtually all monkeys and apes have very long fingers, which means they can't clench their hands into fists. We can. Go ahead. Make a fist. Feels pretty good, eh?
Of course, as the years go by, other evolutionary features have occurred, and our ability to make a fist has been compromised by our not having to use them. I mean, I wouldn't want to fight a gorilla these days.
In fact, I wouldn't want to fight anyone. Full disclosure: I've never punched anyone, never been punched. Got into a few schoolyard scrapes, and once slapped a buddy of mine upside his head after he almost ran me over (accidentally, I think), but punch or get punched? Yeah, no not so much. I'm a lover, not a fighter. Pen mightier than the sword. I use cliches as my rope-a-dope tactic.
Luckily, I'm not exactly alone. While the threat is there, most of us manage to go about our daily lives without knocking out the guy sitting in the next cubicle.
Which begs the question: What's next for our hands? (Go ahead. Take a look at them again. Wiggle them around. So cool) I mean, if evolution is our guide, our hands are going to keep changing. And without sounding too pie-in-the-sky about it, hopefully, as the human race continues to mature, we'll kick violence to the curb - well, you know, gently place violence to the curb - and then have no use for fists.
What will our hands look like then?
Well, hopefully they'll go back to the old style, with monkey-like long fingers. Why? Because if you're anything like me, being able to hold and manipulate a Kindle or iPad or something similar with one hand would be about the most hands-related evolutionary net positive thing thing I could use right now. I'm constantly straining my fingers trying to reach for the far keys on the keyboard, and it's only my cell phone! Come on evolution get cracking!
Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and twitter.com/jeffedelstein.