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21 Animals with Opposable Thumbs (A to Z List with Pictures)

21 Animals with Opposable Thumbs

Examples of animals with opposable thumbs include baboons, monkeys, chameleons, chimpanzees, and gorillas.

It has long been known that humans are not the only species on Earth with opposable thumbs. In fact, a number of animals also have this handy attribute. What many people don’t know, however, is just how versatile and useful opposable thumbs can be.

This post will take a closer look at some of the animals that possess this characteristic and explore what makes them so special.

Examples of Animals with Opposable Thumbs

1. Baboon

Baboon
Scientific NamePapio
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica or Arabia

It might not come as a surprise to learn that baboons are among the list of animals with opposable thumbs. These mammals are members of the Old World monkey family, and they can be found across sub-Sahara Africa.

One thing that makes baboons so interesting is the fact that their feet have five digits each. This gives them a strong grip, which is enhanced by their opposable thumbs. Baboons are also equipped with powerful jaws and long canine teeth, which make them formidable opponents.

2. Bonobo

Bonobo
Scientific NamePan paniscus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe Democratic Republic of Congo

Perhaps one of the most well-known animals that have opposable thumbs is the bonobo. This species, which is found in Africa, uses its two opposable thumbs to communicate with and manipulate its fellow chimpanzees.

In addition to this impressive feature, bonobos are also known for having a close social structure; they live in small family groups where everyone contributes to the care of the young.

Related Article: Are Bonobos Leaders?

3. Brushtail Possum

Brushtail Possum
Scientific NameTrichosurus vulpecula
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeQueensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, and Northern Territory

The brushtail possum is a marsupial that is native to Australia. It is one of the largest possums in existence and can grow to be up to three feet long. The brushtail possum has a prehensile tail which it uses to grip branches, helping it climb trees with ease. But its most notable feature is its opposable thumb.

The opposable thumb of the brushtail possum is short and stout, and it is used primarily for gripping branches. This animal also has sharp claws that help it climb trees and catch prey.

Related Article: Do Possums Eat Snakes?

4. Chameleons

Chameleon
Scientific NameChamaeleonidae
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeWorldwide

Chameleons are well-known for their ability to change the color of their skin in order to blend in with their surroundings. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this camouflage technique would not be possible without the use of opposable thumbs.

By gripping branches with their thumb and forefinger, chameleons are able to keep a steady grip while they climb and search for food. They also use their opposable thumbs to help them catch prey. When a chameleon sees its target, it will quickly extend its tongue to snatch the unsuspecting victim.

5. Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees
Scientific NamePan troglodytes
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthern Senegal across the forested belt north of the Congo River to western Uganda and western Tanzania

Like baboons, chimpanzees are primates that have opposable thumbs on both their hands and feet. These animals are found in the wild in Africa and are known for their intelligence and complex social structures.

In addition to their opposable thumbs, chimpanzees also have very dexterous hands that allow them to grasp and manipulate objects with great skill. They are also capable of using tools in a variety of ways, which makes them incredibly versatile and adaptable animals.

6. Giant Pandas

panda bear
Scientific NameAiluropoda melanoleuca
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthwest China

The giant panda is a bear that is native to China. These animals are easily recognized by their black and white fur, which helps them blend in with the snow-covered mountains where they live.

What makes giant pandas particularly interesting is that they have an opposable thumb on each paw. This allows them to grip branches and leaves tightly, which is helpful for climbing. Additionally, the giant panda’s thumb can be rotated so that it can grasp objects in a similar way to humans.

7. Gorillas

Western Gorilla
Scientific NameGorilla
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeequatorial Africa

Gorillas are arguably the most famous animals with opposable thumbs, and for good reason. These large primates use their thumbs in a variety of ways, including grasping plants and branches to eat and climb. They also use them to help keep their balance while moving around in the trees.

Read Also: Do Gorillas Have Tail?

8. Grivet

Grivet
Scientific NameChlorocebus aethiops
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesavanna woodlands

These small, intelligent primates are native to Africa and have long been used by humans for a variety of purposes, including as pets, research subjects, and even as sources of food.

The grivet’s opposable thumbs allow it to easily grasp and manipulate objects with incredible dexterity and precision. This makes it a highly adaptable and intelligent animal, capable of using tools to get what it wants or needs.

9. Humans

Humans
Scientific NameHomo sapiens
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide

Of course, humans are the first and most obvious example of an animal with opposable thumbs. Our dexterity and manual skills allow us to accomplish tasks that are not only difficult for other animals but also impossible for them. We can use our thumbs to grip objects, make precise movements and perform complex manipulations.

Related Also: Do Humans Eat Kelp?

10. Koalas

Koalas sitting in a tree
Scientific NamePhascolarctos cinereus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeEastern Australia

These cuddly creatures are marsupials that are native to Australia. They are well-known for their love of eucalyptus leaves and their unique appearance. Koalas have two opposable digits on each hand, which they use to grip branches as they climb trees.

Read Also: What Eats Koalas?

11. Lar Gibbon

Lar Gibbon
Scientific NameHylobates lar
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSoutheast Asia

The lar gibbon is a type of ape that is found in the forests of Southeast Asia. These creatures are known for their acrobatic abilities and their use of opposable thumbs to help them swing from branch to branch.

What sets the lar gibbon apart from other apes is its long tail, which it uses for balance while climbing. The lar gibbon is also the only ape that is able to walk on two legs for short distances.

12. Lemurs

Ring-Tailed Lemur
Scientific NameLemuroidea
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeMadagascar

Lemurs are primates best known for their large, expressive eyes and long tails. They are an endangered species due to habitat loss and hunting, but they still play a vital role in the ecosystems of Madagascar. Lemurs have opposable thumbs on each hand that allow them to grasp branches and move through the trees with ease.

13. Monkeys

Howler Monkey
Scientific NameCercopithecidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide

As anyone who has ever tried to eat a banana will attest, opposable thumbs are ideal for gripping fruit. This is especially true for monkeys, who use their nimble digits to swing from branch to branch and pluck ripe fruit from the trees.

Related Article: Do Monkey Eat Ticks?

14. Nilgiri Langur

Scientific NameTrachypithecus johnii
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats in South India

The Nilgiri langur is a primate species found in the forests of South India. They are known for their dexterous hands, which feature long and strong opposable thumbs that allow them to grip objects with great precision and dexterity. These remarkable abilities allow the Nilgiri langurs to easily navigate through the dense undergrowth of their natural habitat and to deftly pick fruits and leaves from the branches of trees.

15. Orangutans

Orangutans
Scientific NamePongo
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSoutheast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra

Orangutans are one of the most intelligent animals on Earth and they use their opposable thumbs for a variety of tasks. For instance, they can use them to build nests, climb trees, and gather food. Additionally, they have been known to use tools, which is a testament to their intelligence.

16. Rhesus Macaque

Rhesus Macaque
Scientific NameMacaca mulatta
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfghanistan through India, Thailand, Vietnam and China

The rhesus macaque is a species of Old World monkey that is native to Asia. These monkeys are easily recognizable by their reddish-brown fur and bright white faces. Rhesus macaques are also notable for their long tails and opposable thumbs.

These monkeys are highly intelligent and are known to use tools in the wild. With their agile hands and nimble fingers, they are able to manipulate objects with great dexterity and precision. In addition to being excellent climbers, rhesus macaques are also skilled swimmers and spend much of their time in trees or on the ground foraging for food.

17. Siamang Gibbon

Siamang Gibbon
Scientific NameSymphalangus syndactylus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeMalay Peninsula and Sumatra

The siamang gibbon is a type of ape that is native to the forests of Southeast Asia. These animals are particularly interesting because they are the largest member of the gibbon family and they have the longest arms in proportion to the body size of any primate.

What sets the siamang apart from other gibbons, however, is its use of its opposable thumb. Unlike other gibbons, which use their thumbs for gripping branches, the siamang uses its thumb to help hold on to its mate during copulation.

18. Sugar Gliders

Sugar Glider
Scientific NamePetaurus breviceps
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangecontinental Australia

Sugar gliders are small marsupials found throughout Australia and some parts of Southeast Asia. They have long, thin tails that help them move quickly through the trees where they typically live and also allow them to glide up to 50 feet from one tree to another.

What makes these animals truly unique, though, is their opposable thumbs. Sugar gliders use their thumbs for a variety of tasks, including grasping branches, opening cocoons, and even grooming themselves.

19. Virginia Opossum

Virginia Opossum
Scientific NameDidelphis virginiana
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorth of Mexico

The Virginia opossum is a North American marsupial that is notable for its opposable thumbs. These thumbs are located on the hind feet and are used for grasping and holding onto branches. The opossum also has an opposable thumb on its tail, which it uses for balance when climbing.

20. Waxy Monkey Tree Frog

Waxy Monkey Tree Frog
Scientific NamePhyllomedusa sauvagii
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSouth America’s Chaco

The waxy monkey tree frog is one of the first animals that come to mind when thinking about opposable thumbs. This creature is a native of South America and has a unique, leathery skin that allows it to grip branches with its feet.

21. White Cheeked Gibbon

White Cheeked Gibbon
Scientific NameNomascus leucogenys
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeLaos, Vietnam and southern China

The white-cheeked gibbon is one of the more well-known animals that have opposable thumbs. As its name implies, this species is distinguished by the prominent white coloring on its cheeks and chin.

In addition to its distinctive appearance, the white-cheeked gibbon is also known for being highly social and intelligent. It often uses its opposable thumbs to help it swing through the trees, where it lives in large family groups.

The white-cheeked gibbon is an excellent example of how versatile and useful opposable thumbs can be. This species would not be able to swing through the trees or live in such large social groups without this adaptation.

Conclusion

Though opposable thumbs are not limited to primates, they are most commonly found in this group of animals. This is because primates have evolved to live in trees, and opposable thumbs allow them to grip branches and move about the forest canopy with ease. Additionally, primates use their opposable thumbs for a variety of tasks, such as grooming, feeding, and tool use.

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