23 Animals With Opposable Thumbs (+Pictures)

Animals have many features among them one unique, valuable, useful and appreciable feature is their Opposable thumbs, that is, usually present in advanced animals such as primates, apes, old-world monkeys, and even sometimes frogs.

In this article, We are going to see animals with opposable thumbs and Pseudo opposable thumbs that are cute, ugly, funny, shocking, and shy. 

Why are Opposable Thumbs so Important?

The opposable thumbs play important roles as they help with writing, eating, swinging, grasp things, etc. because they are the only finger that can move independently from the rest finger while also capable of touching the tips of the adjacent fingers as they are usually distally placed in distance from the adjacent fingers.

The function and number of opposable thumbs varies depending on the animals. For example, the Koala has two opposable thumbs in each hand and one opposable toes in each feet, Whereas, Apes have only one opposable thumbs in each hand but not in their feet.

Animals With Opposable Thumbs

Humans

Animal type: Great Apes.

Humans are the one animal who can take the maximum advantage of opposable thumbs than the other animal with opposable thumbs, because humans use it for many kinds of activities such as writing, holding, etc. 

The opposable thumbs of humans are longer than the other animals with opposable thumbs, while also having fingerprints in it.

Chimpanzees

Animal type: Great Apes.

The chimpanzee or simply chimps are the species belonging to the great ape found in the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. These are one out of the four types of great ape such as chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.  Like other apes, Chimps too have opposable thumbs in hands and opposable big toes in their feet. 

They can’t be recommended as pets because the adult chimpanzee has 3-5 times more power than the average human.

Gorillas

Animal type: Great Apes.

The gorillas are the biggest primates that usually live in isolated groups in Africa and other regions that all have similar genetics like humans which have four opposable thumbs, that is, one opposable thumb in each hand and one opposable long toes in each feet. However, Gorillas have semi-opposable feet meaning, big and long toes can be placed lower side of their foot. 

Surprisingly! Gorillas have fingerprints with opposable thumbs and opposable big toes, But humans lack opposable toes.

Orangutans

Animal type: Great Apes.

The Orangutans belong to great apes that are intelligent like other apes such as the chimps, gorillas, etc. These Orangutans are found only in Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.  Like humans, gorillas and chimps the Orangutans have one opposable thumb in each hand and one long opposable toes in each feets that all enable them to swing through branches using their hands and feets.

“Tree-dwelling animals”-They spend most of their life living in trees, sleeping, eating, playing, etc. everything happens in trees.

Bonobo

Animal type: Great Apes.

The bonobo is an endangered species belonging to great apes, which is also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, dwarf chimpanzee or gracile chimpanzee found in Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other places. However, bonobos are not related to chimpanzees; they are called so because of the convenience that set in the past. 

Interestingly, Bonobos are referred to as “Make Love, Not War” apes because of their good social behaviors such as social bonding, pleasure, play, greeting one another.

Baboon

Animal type: Old World monkeys.

There are about five different species of baboons that all belong to the old world monkeys and are found in Africa, Arabia, and other places. They have one opposable thumb in each hand along with one opposable toes in each toe thus they have four opposable thumbs, that all let them do many activities such as climbing, gripping objects, etc. 

Baboons are the largest type of monkey in the world as they can grow about 35 inches which can weigh about 40 Kg.

Lar gibbon 

Animal type: Lesser Apes

The lar gibbons are also known as White-handed gibbons belonging to lesser apes that do not have tails like all other apes that are found in Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, China, etc. Commonly gibbons including the lar gibbons are called as fastest apes as they are famous for fast swinging through the tree branches.

White-handed gibbons are called so because they have white fur on the upper sides of their hands and feet.

Grivet

Animal type: Old World monkeys

The next primates with opposable thumb is the grivet which have opposable toes as well. The grivet is also known as the African green monkey, savannah monkey belonging to the Old World monkey found in  Sudan east of the White Nile, Eritrea, Ethiopia east to the Rift Valley, Djibouti, etc. They are identified by a narrow black face with red eyes, tails longer than their bodies.

The baby of the grivet is so cute. However, only those grivets close to the baby and its family are allowed to play with the babies while all other grivets have to wait.

Rhesus Macaque

Animal type: Old World monkeys.

The rhesus macaque is a highly intelligent monkey belonging to the Old World monkey, that is found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, and China, Florida, etc. When it comes to opposable thumbs, Of course, these macaques  have opposable thumbs like other apes and monkeys.

Unbelievably, Great swimmers- Rhesus macaques are good at swimming and enjoy swimming, especially in groups.

Siamang Gibbon

Animal type: Lesser Apes.

The siamang is a large gibbon that is almost twice the size of other gibbons with black-fur belonging to lesser apes and are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand, etc. Like other primates the Siamang gibbons too have opposable thumbs.

Loudest calls- The siamang gibbons can produce calls through their throat sac that can be heard about 2 km away.

Nilgiri Langur

Animal type: Old World monkeys.

Nilgiri langur is also known as hooded leaf monkey, black leaf monkey, Indian hooded leaf monkey is a langur belonging to the old world monkey and is found in states of India including Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and other places. This is the primate with opposable thumbs that are identified by a glossy black fur body with golden brown fur on its head.

Langurs are called ‘leaf-eating monkeys’ because most of their diet includes leaves.

Northern White Cheeked Gibbon

Animal type: Lesser Apes.

The northern white-cheeked gibbon is lesser apes with opposable thumbs found in forests of Vietnam, Laos, China, etc. The male langurs have black fur on their entire body except at cheeks and are larger than the females while both show different colors.

Fast swinging animals-They have long arms that are used to swing from one branch to another, one tree to another thus can attain about 55 kmph speed through swinging.

Let me ask you, Are monkeys only animals with opposable thumbs? If yes, We will shock you with some frogs which have opposable thumbs. Not kidding, let’s see the waxy monkey tree frog.

Waxy Monkey Tree Frog

Animals type: Frog

The Phyllomedusa sauvagii is a recently discovered frog with opposable thumb commonly known as the waxy monkey tree frog found in South America, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, etc. Frogs are usually known for hopping, jumping behavior but this waxy monkey tree frog actually shows walking behaviors as it is supported by their opposable thumbs and through which they can grab branches and other objects. 

Waxy monkey frogs are called so because they live in trees referring to a monkey, while waxy is referred to as they secrete a waxy substance through their skin.

Sugar Gliders

Animal type: Marsupial.

The next animal with the opposable thumb is the sugar glider, a small and cute squirrel-like species belonging to marsupials in which it is a possum that is actually a nocturnal, omnivorous, gliding, and tree-dwelling lovely animals found in tropical and cool-temperate forests of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, etc.

Sugar gliders are called so as they love eating sugar substances such as fruit, sap, nectar, etc while also have pouches like the kangaroo.

If I ask you, Which animals have 2 opposable thumbs? You will definitely be either surprised or think it’s a dumb question, Whatsoever, It’s possible, and the answer for it is the Koalas.

Koalas

Animal type: Marsupial.

The koala is an arboreal marsupial found in the eastern, southern regions of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. It is identified by a unique stout, large head without tail, fluffy ears, and spoon-shaped nose. These are not related to bears even though some call them koala bears.

They have six thumbs or fingers, that is, two thumbs in each front paw and one opposable toe in each foot for climbing.

Virginia Opossum 

Animal type: Marsupial.

The Virginia opossum is also known as North American opossum is a nocturnal marsupial that is found in the North of Mexico, North Americans, etc. They have large distinct opposable toes without claws in each foot or in hind feet.

They play dead! Once they feel threatened, they undergo involuntarily dead mode while producing bad odors that drive the predators away.

Brushtail Possum

Animal type: Marsupial.

The next animal with the opposable thumb and opposable toes is the second-largest possum called brushtail possum, which is also known as the common brushtail possum belonging to a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial found in Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, etc. The brushtail possum has opposable thumbs on each front paw and one opposable toe without claws in each hind foot meant for providing grip.

Trees with hollows are the homes for the possums where they rest, sleep, and have their young ones.

Animals With Pseudo Opposable Thumbs

Lemur

Animal type: Marsupial.

The next cute animal has pseudo opposable thumbs and big eyes are the lemurs. Lemurs are the nocturnal prosimian primates that are found on the island of Madagascar and are identified by their distinctive characters such as a small body, pointed snout, large eyes, and a long tail. These animals with their features make them not related to monkeys or apes but they are a distinct group of animals called prosimian primates.

Surprisingly, Lemurs have two tongues, one for eating, second tongue hidden under the first tongue meant for grooming other lemur’s fur in their group.

Pottos 

Animal type: Primate

The potto or pottos is also known as the Bosman’s potto is a nocturnal primate with a pseudo opposable thumb that belongs to the family Lorisidae that are found in Sierra Leone eastward to Uganda. These pottos are unique since they have  opposable thumbs with the vestigial index finger,moist nose, tooth comb, and the second toes of the feet contain toilet claws.

pottos opposable thumbs and toes can orient about 180 degrees to their adjacent fingers. Interestingly, they were equipped with claws and nails.

Lorises

Animal type: Primate

Lorises are the nocturnal, arboreal primates including slender lorises, slow lorises that are found in tropical, woodland forests of India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, etc. Lorises have pseudo opposable thumbs and are usually slow climbers, However, If threatened they will give venomous bites that are harmful to animals including humans, and can cause death. 

Lorises are territorial, use urine to mark their territory – making them rather smelly!

Giant Panda 

Animal type: Mammal

The giant panda is also known as the panda bear, simply the panda has pseudo opposable thumbs that are actually not a real opposable thumb but a false thumb developed from a special bone that is already present in their wrists called the sesamoid bone. Thus they have 5 fingers along with one pseudo opposable thumb that all provides extra grip.

Pandas are lazy animals as they spend most of their day eating, sleeping and sometimes hibernating, especially in cold climates.

Other animals with Pseudo opposable thumbs are :

  •  Red panda 
  •  Phyllomedusa Camba
Also Read : 15 Animals With Amazing Tusks

Why do Primates have Opposable Thumbs? 

Primates have opposable thumbs because of their past adaptations for life that involve different activities such as grasping branches, eating, plucking, climbing, holding, etc. 

Even though Humans, Apes and Old world monkeys have opposable thumbs, The opposable thumbs in Humans and apes are more advanced in function and structure than other animals such as monkeys, frogs, etc. as they are continuously used for wide range of activities such as writing, drawing,  tool making, typing, holding, driving, etc.

Do all Primates have Opposable Thumbs? 

Almost all the primates have fully opposable thumbs including Great apes (such as Humans, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans), and Old World monkeys (Except genus colobus) have opposable thumbs.

All New world monkeys(except family called Cebidae have pseudo opposable thumbs) and a genus called colobus from the Old world monkey lack opposable thumbs.

Do Raccoons have Opposable Thumbs?

No, raccoons do not have opposable thumbs. The only animals having opposable thumbs are Great apes (such as Humans, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans), and Old World monkeys (Except genus colobus) have opposable thumbs. However, some animals such as the Giant panda, Lemur, Waxy monkey tree frog, etc have opposable thumbs that are pseudo type.

Note: There are many animals in the primate with opposable thumbs that are not listed because they are more than hundreds in number. And also others whose sources may not be available to us.

References:

https://www.britannica.com/science/opposable-thumb

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumb

Animals with Long Tails
Animals with Long Tails