The following photographs look like your typical selfies of a pretty young woman. There is, however, something is wrong with her photo. The second photo has a red circle around the girl’s hand. She has her index finger in her mouth and her thumb is hidden from view. The other fingers are curled inward, almost as if she were making a fist.
The odd part? Count the knuckles. There are four knuckles, where there ought to be three. Assuming this isn’t an example of photoshopping, the young lady has six fingers.
People really can have extra fingers or toes. The condition is called polydactyly or polydactylism, which comes from Greek words meaning “many digits.” It’s a congenital condition, which means people are born with the extra fingers, thumbs or toes.
In most cases, the person is born with an extra little finger. The extra digit is often malformed and/or useless, so surgeons remove it while the child is very young. It’s unusual for the extra digit to look as normal and functional as the one in the picture. People with polydactylism can be healthy, or they can have other birth defects.
Dogs and especially cats can also be born with extra digits. The writer Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats, so they are sometimes called “Hemingway cats.” They are also sometimes called “thumb cats” or “mitten cats.” Most cats with extra toes are perfectly healthy.