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November 1986

The Monkey's Paw

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Box 697 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester, NY 14642

Arch Dermatol. 1986;122(11):1333-1334. doi:10.1001/archderm.1986.01660230125027

What can be read in the patterns of the palm? The fortune-tellers and the soothsayers would say, the entire story of one's life and fate. Is this not sheer nonsense in the days of molecular biology? The nervous system is critical in the development of palmar patterns, suggesting that the brain and nervous system are reflected on the palms and, hence, much of one's life and fate may indeed be read on the palmar patterns and fingerprints. The monkey's paw, which can be used to study ridge patterns, is also the title of a short story by W. W. Jacobs1 (1863-1943), in which possession of the dried paw of an Indian monkey conveys on its owner three wishes. Your wishes are granted, but the consequences may be so devastating that the third wish is often for death. The story is frequently read in high school and is a springboard