A young child in China is hitting the news this week, as his hands and feet hold an amazing total of 31 fingers and toes. Hong Hong is said to be four months old and awaiting surgery to remove his excess digits, to rid him of his congenital condition known as polydactyly.
CNN.com is reporting that Hong was born in January of this year with 15 fingers and 16 toes in Pingjiang County in Hunan province, to a mother who also has extra fingers and toes.
While Hong’s extremities are impressive, it’s actually a boy from India who currently holds the world record for being born with the most fingers and toes.
Akshat Saxena came into this world in 2010 bearing seven fingers on each hand and ten toes on both feet for a total of 34 fingers and toes. He has since had the extra digits removed but not before being checked and officially noted by Guinness World Records.
Polydactyly is an inherited condition that graces regular and famous people alike, including Oprah Winfrey, Drew Carey and Halle Berry, who is said to have an extra toe on her left foot.
And, interestingly, it can also be found disproportionately in the Amish communities of Eastern Pennsylvania.
According to PBS.org, the Amish carry unusual concentrations of gene mutations because of the fact that they are a relatively small group of people who tend to marry within their faith.
This causes what scientists call the “founder effect,” a condition in which the genes of the founding members of a community are disproportionately frequent in the resulting population when compared with outside groups.
Having excess fingers and toes is something that pbs.org states the Amish experience more often than the non-Amish in the U.S, as it comes as part of a form of dwarfism, called Ellis-van Creveld syndrome.
The syndrome involves excess digits, a short stature, abnormal nails and teeth and can include a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart.
Since individuals in the Amish community tend to marry other members from the same group, there’s a greater likelihood that the recessive genes required for abnormal genetic conditions to surface will be passed down to offspring, and remain prominent in the population.
According to PBS.org, Ellis-van Creveld syndrome has been traced back to one couple, Samuel King and his wife, who came to the Pennsylvania area back in 1744.
Whether or not polydactyly is remaining active in certain parts of the world for similar reasons is not certain, but it could be.
In addition to that, whether it is a liability for the owner of the affected hands and feet is still being debated by some.
Opposable thumbs are required for humans to pick things up and a lack of them could prove to make life considerably difficult, but some of the reasons for having surgery to remove extra fingers and toes seem to remain aesthetic.
As one commentator pointed out, having a few extra fingers and toes could prove useful for faster swimming and better musicianship skills.
It can also provide a very unique way for members of a family to bond, as these Brazilian soccer fans can prove.
Granted 31 or 33 digits is different just an extra one or two: hopefully Hong Hong is on his way to finding the best hands and feet to suit him.