Finger length research demonstrates why old racial theories about body differences were wrong!

June 13, 2010

The second international congress of eugenics (1921) reported: differences between the hands of white and negro fetuses.
The second international congress of eugenics (1921) reported: differences between the hands of white and negro fetuses.

[tweetmeme source=”handresearch” only_single=false] An exhibit from the 1921 second international congress of eugenics presented a report about black-white 2d:4d differences established by the third month of gestation. Modern 2D:4D digit ratio research however has demonstrated that the 1921 results are actually far less revealing than one might presume. For research in various white European populations has indicated that the average ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ of for example people from Finland is hardly higher than the average digit ratio in Jamaicans & Zulus.

Eugenicists emphasized the supposed hereditary differences among races and ignored the social-economic variables that might account for differences in behavior and customs. Thus, the eugenic concept of degenerate heredity provided a pseudo-scientific gloss to age-old prejudices.

John T. Manning presents in his book ‘The Finger Book’ (p.28, 2008) some evidence which illustrates the fact that the index:ring finger ratio differences WITHIN (white) populations are usually larger than the differences BETWEEN the averages of various (ethnic) populations:

“In this sample of 1,516 men and women from ten countries, the average index:ring finger ratio is 0.97 and ranges from about 0.87 to 1.12. … The average ratio per country varies across the distribution and is indicated by the position of the countries. The highest average ratios are found in the samples from Poland (P), Spain (S) and England (E), in a band of ratios from 1.00 to 0.98. … An intermediate group (average ratios from 0.97 to 0.96) comprises subjects from Hungary (H=ethnic hungarians and Hg=Hungarian Gypsies), Germany (G), and India (I). … The group with the longest ring fingers (average ratio o.95 to 0.93) comprise Zulu, Finish and Jamaican participants [ranked by average digit ratio]. They are likely to have experienced high testosterone concentration before birth.”

ILLUSTRATION FROM 2008: Digit ratios in various populations!
Digit ratios in various populations!

The continuation of this post concerns an (outdate) quotation from the 1921 report:

OUTDATED ILLUSTRATION FROM 1921: Differences between white and negro fetuses!
ILLUSTRATION: Differences between white and negro fetuses!

QUOTE FROM THE 1921 REPORT:

“Fig. 24. Comparison of White and Negro Fetuses”

“An exhibit prepared by Dr. A.H. Schulz of the Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, deals with racial differences during prenatal development of man. It is based upon researches on 455 white and 168 negro fetuses ranging in age from the ninth to the fortieth week of intrauterine life. Fourteen plaster casts of white and negro specimens and ten large table illustrate the chief points of difference in fetuses of the two races and in which periods of development that are most distinct.”

“Of these differences the following may be enumerated: The average of the upper arm-forearm index for every week of fetal life is larger in the negro than in the white, showing that the forearm in relation to the upper arm is longer in negro fetuses. In an analogous way the leg in relation to the thigh was found to be longer in negro fetuses, a difference which becomes more pronounced with advancing development. The hand as well as the foot is slightly shorter and broader in white fetuses. In the latter, finger II and IV are of equal length in the greater percentage of cases and frequently finger II is even longer than finger IV; while in the negro the relation in length between these two fingers is more often in favor of finger IV and the latter is never shorter than finger II. The length of the thumb in relation to the total hand length is shorter in the negro, a difference which is constant and rather marked throughout intrauterine development.”

“The first toe is the longest in a greater percentage of white than of negro fetuses, while the second toe is longest in a greater percentage in the negro. In the latter race the heel is more prominent than in the white. The trunk shows no racial differences. Of the head, the brain part is proportionately smaller and the face part larger, particularly in height, in negro fetuses. The nose is relative shorter and broader in negro fetuses in all stages of development, causing a very marked difference in the nasal index of the two races. During the later part of pregnancy the nostrils are directed transversely in the negro and sagitally in the white. The lips are much thicker in negro fetuses.”

Again, modern science today learns that reality can not be described in black and white… you are welcome to share you opinion!

SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER READING:
Evolution of the human hand, finger & the palmar creases!
Finger length linked with social behavior!
Understanding our past: “the primate hand vs. the human hand”!

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