Today a very affectionate cat walked up to my son and me as we were walking back from basketball practice. He wanted a lot of attention, and I noticed he had very peculiar front paws.
He really wanted some company, so my son and I obliged.
As I took a closer look, I realized he had six claws on each front paw. Looked like double thumbs. Nice!
I ran inside and got my camera, and tried to take some pictures for documentation, but they weren't good enough to show the six digits. I then held up his paws pretty firmly. He was good enough not to put his claws in my flesh, even though he clearly didn't much care to be constrained like that. I think he understood that this was a very important scientific investigation. No anthropomorphism here, I swear.
Click images to enlarge in order to see both claws on the thumb.
So why does he have six digits? Well, it could be a developmental "defect", even though I hesitate to even call it a defect - he was clearly doing very well, and my fitness assay was inconclusive (I didn't see any offspring). In that case, his kittens wouldn't have six. More interesting, if was a genetic "defect", then it could be heritable. Wouldn't that be cool? With some human artificial selection, the trait might even become established (i.e., appear in non-vanishing numbers, without going to fixation, i.e., the whole population sharing the trait). I hope he already had offspring, because he looked neutered, the poor thing. If true, that would be a real waste.
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