The Evolution of Fingers & Toes

What can we discover about humans and our origins by studying other animals? It turns out there is an enormous amount to learn just by studying fingers and toes, or digits. Using the scientific method we examine similarities and differences in digital structures of tetrapods, or four-limbed vertebrates, in this comparative study of humans and animals.

This exhibit also focuses more broadly on science and the scientific method. Science is knowledge about, or the systematic study of, the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.

The scientific method is based on:

  • The direct observation of facts.
  • The formulation of a hypothesis, a tentative explanation of a relationship between facts.
  • The formulation of a theory, which consists of many validated hypotheses explaining the relationship between facts.


Evolution is the history of life on Planet Earth and how life has adapted to different environments. Visitors are encouraged to examine the bone structures of the specimens on display and compare them to their own fingers and toes. Consider how the adaptations relate to each animal’s environment.