Do you walk like a man, or like a chimp?
An interesting piece from Wired.co.uk states that 8% of humans have what is referred to as ‘chimp feet’, in that the foot is effectively split in two, allowing the foot to ‘flex’ in a way rather like that of our distant primate cousins.
‘Anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva and occupational therapist Simone Gill looked at 398 people as they walked up and down barefoot in the Boston Museum of Science. They filmed the feet up close to see what midtarsal flexibility there was, and found 32 of the participants — or nearly one in 13 — “possessed both elevated lateral midfoot pressures and even exhibit midfoot dorsiflexion characteristic of a midtarsal break”. That is, they have bendy feet, like chimps.
The owners of the monkey feet didn’t look like they were walking noticeably different to the casual observer, nor did they tell DeSilva or Gill that they felt like they could notice the bending of their feet as they walked. However, people with the midtarsal break had much flatter feet than normal.
Whether the difference confers any advantages — beyond making it easier to pick stuff up with one’s feet, or climb trees — is unclear. DeSilva told New Scientist that he believed, because flexible feet should pose a disadvantage for humans who only use their feet for walking, it might be a reemerging trait caused by new lifestyle variations (like wearing shoes) that mean the feet ligaments fail to become as rigid.’
What isn’t mentioned is whether or not this trait could have existed in our paleolithic ancestors, such as Neanderthal man, who, like those humans who possessed the midtarsal break in the foot, we previously reported had been discovered to have flatter feet than humans, which made them less suited to running.
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