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This textbook states

The hand (or manus) consists of the following parts: (a) wrist or carpus, (b) hand proper (or metacarpus), and (c) digits (thumb and fingers).

How could I justify why are digits not considered as hand proper? Hand is a prehensile organ and digits are of primary importance for prehension. So then how could metacarpus be considered as hand proper?

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Proper in this instance means the main body of the hand, the part that has no other identifier. the fingers and wrist have other terms to identify them, the hand proper does not. If I say the the hand you are not sure whether I mean the hand as a whole or that part in particular so it is called the hand proper. Its an old usage of the word, but that is common in anatomy text.

From webster it is the 6th definition. Proper: strictly limited to a specified thing, place, or idea

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If you define a hand as a prehensile organ, try grasping an object with just your fingers(digits). Try that action without your thumb.

You cannot make a firm grasp of anything without using your metacarpus. Most people don't hold thing using just their fingers. In effect your prehensile organ known as the hand is incomplete is you include only fingers. The metacarpus are involved in the grasping action.

Finally what amounts to a hand has already been defined. So metacarpus is considered part of the structure that we call a "hand".

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  • $\begingroup$ But why the adjective "proper"? $\endgroup$ – JM97 Jan 7 '17 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ There is possibility to grasp objects only with fingers but it's impossible to grasp objects only with metacarpus. So why is it still considered as hand proper? $\endgroup$ – JM97 Jan 7 '17 at 14:31

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