Geneva, Switzerland — The International Anatomical Union convention has declared that according to their new definition, the pinky, or ear finger, does not qualify as a true finger. Previously there was no formal definition of a finger. This had led to concerns that scientists would be forced to recognize many new fingers as advances in anatomical reasoning and theory point out previously unclassified appendages. Kyle Montague, a delegate at the convention, explained the issue that prompted the move.
“Basically there has been a historical concept of a finger, but we have outgrown the simple anatomical model accepted by the ancient anatomists. Although, we are not likely to discover anything new in humans that anyone might label a finger, the lack of a formal definition, or the initial attempt at a definition left the door open for potentially hundreds of new fingers in the animal kingdom.”
The recent discovery of prehensile appendages on some microscopic organisms helped fuel the debate. Some even began to assert that fingers might be fleeting structures such as the temporary protuberances of amoebas or slime molds.
The first definition put forward stated that a true finger is a permanent secondary terminal appendage and must be at least twice as long as its width at its widest point. Many anatomists were unsatisfied with that definition and a new clause was added which also requires that a true finger must also be able to touch other co-joined fingers (those on the same hand) on two opposing sides. The fingers in the middle obviously meet the criteria and the thumb is able to do this because it is in opposition to the other fingers. However, the lowly pinky is left hanging in the wind.
It seems obvious that the last requirement was specifically designed to exclude the pinky. Under the new classification system the pinky qualifies only as a fingeroid. Using a similar classification system for toes, the little toe is no longer considered by anatomists to be a true toe but has been reclassified as a plutoe.