1 in 13 Humans Have Feet Like Apes

Floppy feet offer small piece of evolutionary puzzle

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 2, 2013 3:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – No one wants to be told their feet look like an ape's, but scientists say that many humans' do, and there's a good reason why: It's evolution, baby. Humans typically have rigid feet, held together by stiff ligaments, explains the BBC. But researchers studied the feet of almost 400 visitors to the Boston Museum of Science, and found that 1 in 13 had "floppy" feet like a chimpanzee, with flexible mid-sections that result in a flatter, bendier foot—perfect for climbing trees, the scientists reported in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

"The best way to see this is if you're walking on the beach and leaving footprints, the middle portion of your footprint would have a big ridge that might show your foot is actually folding in that area," says one of the researchers. He says that a fossil of a million-year-old human ancestor also has this foot structure. "We are using variation in humans today as a model for understanding what this human creature 2 million years ago was doing," he explains.

A five-week-old baby chimpanzee named Sule clings to his mother Sacha at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.
A five-week-old baby chimpanzee named Sule clings to his mother Sacha at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
  (Shutterstock)
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