big hands, Rebecca Costa, VoiceAmerica


We’ve all heard the joke about men with big feet.  And science has proven that large breasts combined with a narrow waist means greater fertility among women. 

But what about a big nose? 

A big head? 

More specifically, big hands?

Not long ago, when my daughter was in seventh grade, she grew to be six feet tall. She towered over her classmates and overnight, coaches at her school began encouraging her to try out for basketball.  Other parents suggested that I look into modeling and her dad trotted out an article that showed that most CEO’s are over six feet tall.  For a while it seemed that every activity and profession associated with tall people was up for discussion.  Though I had no idea why my daughter suddenly sprouted up, I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with bettering her opportunities in a pageant, play-off or board room.

One day I told her that I had a similar experience when I was a young.  My hands started to grow ahead of the rest of me.  No one knows why.   And, at the time, no one was sure if the rest of me would catch up.

Then someone told my mother that large hands were extremely useful for playing the piano.  So my mother – up in arms over what to do with her daughter’s freakishly big hands – signed me up for piano lessons at the local music school.  I had no particular affinity for music, but I dutifully followed my piano teacher’s instruction for many years – always reminded that I was born with an “advantage” and I was obligated to capitalize on that advantage.  It didn’t matter whether I liked music or the piano – the point was to use the gifts I was born with.  Which in this case meant relentlessly playing scales, faster and faster and faster.

I do not play the piano today.  And my daughter does not play basketball, nor has she ever walked in a beauty pageant.  What’s more, there is no evidence to suggest big breasted women are dropping babies faster than those who, through the miracle of plastic surgery, now offer the appearance that they are just as fertile.

Still – there are days when I look down at my big hands and I wonder if they are going to waste.  I bring my groceries in from the car.  I type on my computer keyboard.  I plant flowers in my backyard and chop and dice and stir in the kitchen.  I brush the dog and roll the garbage cans to the curb – ever aware that my hands are large because this offered my prehistoric ancestors – from whom I descended – some evolutionary advantage.  But what advantage?  Were they able to carry more food?  Clutch a spear with greater force?  Dig faster?  Use their palms as efficient bowls?  My mind goes wild imagining the reason for my big hands.  Reasons I will never know.

Evolution is fickle.  If large hands offer no utility today, this trait will eventually atrophy over time.  It will take many generations, but if other than playing the piano, big hands offer no advantage there will be fewer and fewer women with big hands.

On the other hand (no pun intended), it’s fun to think that I may be the first of more women with big mitts to come.  Perhaps they have some purpose, some benefit, I am not aware of.   And perhaps my daughter marks the beginning of taller seventh graders.  And my son, more boys with big feet.

Did I mention he has big feet?

Rebecca Costa is a sociobiologist who offers a genetic explanation for current events, emerging trends and individual behavior. A thought-leader and provocative new voice in the mold of Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell and Jared Diamond, Costa is the foremost expert in “Fast Adaptation” tracing everything from terrorism, debt, epidemic obesity and upheaval in the Middle East to evolutionary imperatives.

Retiring at the zenith of her career in Silicon Valley, Costa spent six years researching and writing The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. In her book, Costa explains how the principles governing evolution cause and provide a solution for global gridlock. When asked why the book has special significance today, Costa claims, “Every person I know, wants to know why our government gets more in debt, our air and water more polluted, our jails more crowded, our security more tenuous and our children more violent. We seem to have lost our ability to solve our problems. The Watchman’s Rattle offers a genetic explanation for our paralysis, and prescribes a way out.”

The success of Rebecca Costa’s first book led to a weekly radio program in 2010 called The Costa Report on The Costa Report is currently one of the fastest growing radio programs on the West Coast.

 rebecca costa