Bimana - Encyclopedia

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BIMANA (Lat. "two-handed"), a word first used by the naturalist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach to distinguish the order of man from Quadrumana or other mammals. The term was popularized by Cuvier, and the majority of writers followed him in its adoption. In 1863, however, Huxley in his Man's Place in Nature demonstrated that the higher apes might fairly be included in Bimana. Again and again it has been proved that the human great toe can be by constant practice used as a thumb; artists exist who have painted pictures grasping the brush with their toes, and violinists have been known to play their instruments in the same manner. Among many savage races there is developed a remarkable power of foot-grasp, which in a lesser degree is often so noticeable among sailors. Haeckel calls attention to the fact that a baby can hold a spoon with the big-toe as with a thumb. Man, in a word, is potentially quadrumanous.

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