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Keywords:

  • finger length patterns;
  • sex differences;
  • index finger;
  • ring finger

Abstract

The fingers in the adult human hand differ in length and in distal extent. The literature agrees that in the clear majority of males, the distal extent of the ring finger tends to be relatively greater (using the middle finger as standard) than the index finger. However, the results for females vary considerably, with some studies reporting that females show a similar pattern to that of males, while others suggest that the prevalence of a longer index finger is relatively or absolutely more common in females. We provide a review of the literature, and a set of data for both finger length and distal fingertip extent of the finger for a contemporary cohort of young adult females and males (n = 502). Finger length measures favor the ring finger of both sexes, with smaller between-finger differences for females than for males. However, while the distal fingertip extent favors the ring finger of both hands in males, in females the left hand shows no significant differences, and the right hand shows a small index finger advantage. Thus, the sexual dimorphism in finger measures is more strongly expressed in the distal extent of fingertips than in the length of fingers. The sex differences in distal fingertip extent derive from the index finger only, with a lesser distal extent of the index finger, relative to the middle finger, in males than in females. Am J Phys Anthropol 117:209–217, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.