1 in 13 people have bendy chimp-like feet
2013 05 30

By Colin Barras | NewScientist

You may be walking on chimp-like feet without knowing it. At least 1 in 13 of us have feet that are specially adapted for climbing trees.

Textbooks will tell you that the human foot is rigid, which allows more efficient walking. Other apes, in contrast, have flexible feet better suited to grasping branches as they move through the trees. But the textbooks are wrong, say Jeremy DeSilva and Simone Gill at Boston University.

The pair asked 400 adults to walk barefoot around the Boston Museum of Science while they filmed their feet. This revealed that 8 per cent of people have some mid-foot flexibility, rather like that seen in tree-dwelling apes (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, doi.org/mmh). In another, soon-to-be-published analysis, Robin Huw Crompton at the University of Liverpool, UK, found that a flexible mid-foot may be even more common than DeSilva and Gill suggest.

So what does a flexible foot look like? It bends at the ball of the foot, and also halfway between the heel and the ball. All human feet have a joint at this point – but in most of us, stiff ligaments span the joint and keep it rigid. In some people, however, the ligaments are softer, allowing the mid-foot to bend. Close-ups of flexible feet as they unroll during walking make the bend obvious, but DeSilva says their owners were not aware of anything unusual, nor was their gait any different. "I was, and continue to be, surprised by this," he says.

Crompton thinks flexible feet may have been with us since the dawn of our species, as a relic of our tree-dwelling days. Other features were lost along the way. Chimpanzees, for instance, have opposable toes for gripping.

On the strength of his study, Crompton believes most feet can produce this flexibility in specific circumstances, adding vital stability. "For instance, our work shows that it is important during a sudden change of speed."

[...]

Read the full article at: newscientist.com



Related Articles
Human hands and feet have fishy origins


Latest News from our Front Page

Hungary’s Orban Bashes Liberal Immigration Policy
2014 08 29
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday lashed out against immigration, setting one of the main policy objectives of his next term in power after winning parliamentary elections in April. “The goal is to cease immigration whatsoever,” said Hungary’s prime minister. “I think the current liberal immigration policy, which is considered obvious and morally based, is hypocrite,” Mr. Orban said. At a ...
China’s “Duplitecture” Cities Mimic the World’s Greatest Architectural Hits
2014 08 29
The best knockoffs in the world are in China. There are plenty of fake designer handbags and Rolexes, but China’s knockoffs go way beyond fashion. There are knockoff Apple stores that look so much like the real thing that some employees believe they are working in real Apple stores. And then there are entire knockoff cities. There are Venices with ...
Kiev loses control of Novoazovsk, rebel troops advance in southeast Ukraine
2014 08 29
Kiev’s troops had to leave the eastern Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk to save their lives, said the country’s Security and Defense Council. The authorities admitted that self-defense forces are advancing and leading a counteroffensive in the southeast. Along with Novoazovsk, Kiev troops have lost control over the villages of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s ...
Mohammed is most popular name in Oslo
2014 08 29
For the first time in the capital city’s history, Mohammed is the most common name for boys and men, said a study on Thursday. Statistics Norway (Statistisk Sentralbyrå - SSB) has counted the population of Oslo and found that Mohammed is the most common male name in Oslo for the first time ever. Jørgen Ouren of SSB said to NRK: “It is ...
Beaten to Death at McDonald’s
2014 08 29
To the four clean-cut college freshman out on a double date, it had seemed like a typical McDonald’s: spanking clean, well-lighted, and safe. It was in a good neighborhood too, right next to Texas A&M University in College Station -- a campus known for its friendly atmosphere and official down-home greeting: “howdy.” Shortly after 2 A.M. that Sunday, they pulled into ...
More News »