I rode the tube to Bethnal Green last night. My fear of closed spaces – which had on many occasions prevented me to even contemplate plunging into London’s innards – always gives way to mild bursts of insanity. Yesterday, I imagined the train being permanently immobilized between stops, my brain equated the tunnel to a tomb, flashing images of rotten corpses whizzed by, and finally a steady stream of stills of each one of the passengers around me as a mummified lump…
“Mind the Gap”.
Phew, I made it (alive).
A mummy from the Chachapoyas culture
As I rushed through the crowds, I felt incredibly aware of my own existence (I always do after a tube ride), but I also felt fascinated with the thought that we are all ultimately perishable walking forms. I wondered about my own ‘innards’ and what they’d reaveal.
It turns out, just like the London underground, it’s not all that attractive. But why hide these crippled bones of mine? I’m taking my skeleton out of the closet today and stripping myself of my flesh. I’ve done some exploratory probings during my lifetime, and have decided to come clean about by own crookedness, and expose my bones in increments.
So without further ado, I give you item number 1, ‘the crooked pinky’:
I may look nothing like either of my parents, but my fingers don’t lie. Or at least my pinkies don’t. My mitochondrial half has been so kind as to endow all of its progeny with crooked little fingers, and all members of the family on the maternal side have varying degrees of this strange ‘finger curvature’.
Clearly, I am not adopted, and whatever mutant gene is causing this abnormality is being served straight-up from my mother’s side and has precedent over its recessive counterpart in my father (it’s therefore autosomal dominant with complete penetrance).
It may be an aberration, and slightly unattractive but it’s certainly not debilitating so I’ve grown quite fond of it.
… and it has a name.
Clinodactyly (or “bent finger”, from the Greek ‘klinein’, “to lean/to bend”, and “daktylos”, finger) is a common deffect of the 5th finger (or pinky), by which the distal end of the digit bends towards the 4th finger (the ring finger). It usually occurs in about 0.1 to 1% of the human population and in isolation of any other clinical anomalies. Clinodactyly of the fingers can be caused by the presence of an extra bone inside the finger, but when it comes to the pinky, it is most commonly due to the underdevelopment of the middle phallanx (or asymmetrical hypoplasia)
X-ray of a hand and and pinky with clinodactyly
Fortunately for me and my maternal family members, this is nothing but a skeletal curiosity that happens to be visible on the outside. In some cases, however, it can occur in combination with other abnormalities such as Russell-Silver syndrome, Feingold Syndrome or Down Syndrome. In fact, when it is identified in prenatal ultrasounds, it is considered statistically correlated with increased risk of chromosome aberration in the fetus and may be reason enough to order an amniocentesis…
“Mind the Gap”.
Phew. I made it (sans-Down Syndrome).