In TELECOM Digest V23 #505, our esteemed Editor wrote (in part):
> ...how many toes does a cat have on its paws? Some people
> would say 'five', which is normally the correct answer. But
> some cats have *six* toes on one (or all four) feet. The
> vernacular name for such cats is 'polydex'...
> I guess it is some genetic thing going back a million years
> or so.
"Polydactyly" [polly DAK tih lee] is the name of the condition;
animals affected by it are described as "polydactyl" or
"polydactylous". It occurs in cats, humans, and other critters.
One or two extra fingers or finger-like growths of cartilage beyond
the "pinkie" finger is the more common form. An extra thumb is
rarer, and an extra middle, index, or ring finger (usually a
cartilaginous projection from a finger) is the rarest form.
Polydactyl people and cats were thought to be witches in medieval
Europe, and as such, were frequently put to death.
Count Rugen, the villain in "The Princess Bride" who was played by
Christopher Guest, was polydactyl.
I have known at least three polydactyl people, all of whom had their
polydactyl fingers surgically removed in infancy. The only one with
extra toes kept them; his parents were told that removing them could
make it more difficult to walk, because of the way the toes had
formed. He wore something like a 'EEEE' shoe width.
One of these acquaintances, a mild-mannered fellow I went to high
school with, was later shot and killed during the last of his dozen or
so bank robberies in the Denver area. He had been nicknamed "the
gentleman robber" (as I recall) for his conduct during his crimes. Not
gentlemanly enough to keep him from getting shot, it seems.
(The examples above are not meant to imply any predilection toward
antisocial behavior by polydactyl people.)
Lots of good Google hits on "polydactyl" -- too many and too much
variety to try to include here. Can't think of a telecom tie-in,
I'm afraid. Call this "Friday trivia" ...
Paul A Lee Sr Telecom Engineer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rite Aid Corporation HL-IS-COM (Telecomm) V: +1 717 730-8355
30 Hunter Lane, Camp Hill, PA 17011-2410 F: +1 717 975-3789
P.O. Box 3165, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3165 W: +1 717 805-6208
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Except today is Tuesday, not Friday,
but that's okay. Little Nicholas (the first one who was always so
loving and friendly to humans) was polydactyl as I mentioned
before. But he *never* went outside, I think he was afraid of being