Smartphone users 'evolving pointier fingers'

Digital technology affects the digits…
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor on

Digital technology affects the digits…

Scientists suggest the shape of the human finger is changing as generations of computer use start to have an impact on the human genome.

Research shows these changes have accelerated over recent years with the increased use of touchscreen phones and tablets.

"Because humans have now been using digital technology for a number of generations, it is possible to see the evolutionary trends emerging," said Professor Urehavin Alaff at the University of Poisson D'Avril, in northern France.

Pointier fingers that make it easier to use touchscreen devices are the most obvious evolutionary shift the researchers have spotted so far.

Smartphone owners are obsessive social-media users and this wider network makes it easier to find a mate, said Alaff. This coincidence of circumstances means they are most likely to pass on their genes.

"And one factor deciding how often you use these gadgets is whether you have fingers delicate or pointy enough to take advantage of those tiny screens.

"So what is happening is that pointy fingers are being passed on as a useful characteristic," the professor said.

"Just as the opposable thumb is thought to lead to the development of tools and civilisation, so pointy fingers are making it easier for humans to interact.

The professor said some smartphone users have evolved fingers so thin and pointed they resemble "fleshly pipe-cleaners" compared to the fat, sausage like fingers of the general population. "As a result, they can blast out a self-promoting tweet in three seconds flat," he added."

As well as evolving fingers which are so extremely pointy as to be a hazard in normal life, the evolution of smartphone users is such that within three generations they will no longer have fingerprints, in order to reduce smudging on their touchscreens.

"It's strange because in prehistoric times, the sorts of abilities needed to bring down a woolly mammoth were the ones that got passed on," he added.

"Now it's the ability to text 'LOL' and 'ROFL' as quickly as possible on a keyboard the size of an ant's toenail, or tweet inanities about celebrities to your celebrity-obsessed friends. Basically, we should be surprised there's a human race left to evolve at all."

Alaff told silicon.com that the use of social networking is also making men more adept at dealing with more than one task effectively.

"Research shows that men are now much better able to process and react to complex information, while also carrying out another task, due to the amount of data they routinely have to deal with in the workplace," Alaff said. "They should therefore be able to provide suitable reactions to accounts of daily events while continuing to focus on the football."

Meanwhile, it has been found that the use of augmented reality is improving women's spacial awareness as the technology makes them able to react to physical surroundings while also processing extra layers of visual information.

"The ability to relate maps to visual information - such as signs - and to parallel park are undoubtedly improves for women who routinely use augmented reality technology," Alaff added.

Update: Yes, you guessed it folks - this is silicon.com's April Fool's day story!

Smartphone users evolving

Research points to evolutionary adaptations in smartphone and tablet usersPhoto: Dan Zen

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