Monday, October 13, 2014


This week's guest Researcher is Caleb, age 5, of Pomona. He first became interested in the Idyll-Beast during a visit to our community last year, and since then his home has been of a hot bed of theoretical speculation. He contributed this image of a bi-colored Beast this weekend, shortly before he had an encounter and conversation with a similar animal. I am not sure if this sighting did anything to quench Caleb's insatiable curiosity, but in my experience, the more you learn, the more questions you have.

Caleb was especially interested in the Animal's paws. The photograph he had seen seemed to highlight the man-like quality of its "hands." This lead to a discussion of the virtues of opposable thumbs, and the many other animals that use (and abuse) them.

The other Old World Apes of course have them. But some New World Monkeys  eschew the "Fancy Thumb" as an unnecessary and fadish modern inconvenience in favor of the good old-fashioned prehensile tail. The Panda has a sort of pseudo-thumb. If you ever shake hands with one check it out, but don't be too obvious about it.  They are a little sensitive about this. Some African Rats have them.

My personal favorite is the Polydactyl House Cat. These innovative creatures often have opposable thumbs and pinkies among their six or more digits on each paw, doing the monkeys one better and allowing them to perform a number of complex tasks. Cats are generally quiet about this, knowing that if the secret gets out humans will find more high-tech ways to secure household foodstuffs, or even begin asking cats to help them with complex tasks like word-processing. Yawn.

There are a number of Marsupials including Possums that make use of the opposable thumb. And don't forget the Dinosaurs; both flying and earthbound members of this group were early adopters of the opposable thumb.

So the Idyll-Beast may be related to Man, or even a kind of Man, but that's nothing to be ashamed of.  Many respectable animals are. The thumb, however, is no "great divide" between Humans and the other Beasts. In my experience, looking for such a divide is a bit of tail-chasing, and maybe just a wee bit vain, but not wholly without educational value.  And as any cat will tell you, chasing your own tail can be a perfectible healthy and delightful pass-time

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