Human foot not as unique as originally thought
London: Mechanisms of the human foot are not as unique as originally thought and have much more in common with the flexible feet of other great apes, scientists have found.
Current understanding of the evolution of human walking is based on research from the 1930s, which proposes that human feet function very differently to those of other apes, due to the development of arches in the mid-foot region and the supposed rigidity of that on the outside edge of the foot.
In a study of more than 25,000 human steps made on a pressure-sensitive treadmill at the University of Liverpool`s Gait Laboratory, scientists have shown that despite having abandoned life in the trees long ago, our feet have retained a surprising amount of flexibility, the type seen in the feet of other great apes, such as orangutans and chimpanzees, that have remained largely tree-dwelling.
"It has long been assumed that because we possess lateral and medial arches in our feet - the lateral one supposedly being rigid and supported in bone - that our feet differ markedly to those of our nearest relatives, whose mid-foot is fully flexible and makes regular ground contact," said Professor Robin Crompton, from the University`s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease.
"This supposed `uniqueness`, however, has never been quantitatively tested. We found that the range of pressures exerted under the human mid-foot, and thus the internal mechanisms that drive them, were highly variable, so much so that they actually overlapped with those made by the great apes," Crompton said.
It has previously been thought that humans who make contact with the ground with the mid-foot region are primarily those that suffer from diabetes or arthritis, both of which can impact on the structure of the feet.
Research showed, however, that two thirds of normal healthy subjects produced some footfalls where the mid-foot touches the ground, with no indication that this is other than an aspect of normal healthy walking.
"Our ancestors probably first developed flexibility in their feet when they were primarily tree-dwelling, and moving on bendy branches, but as time passed and we became more and more ground-dwelling animals, some new features evolved to enable us to move quickly on the ground," said Dr Karl Bates, from the University`s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease.
"Our limbs, however, did not adapt to life on the ground anywhere near as much as those of other ground-dwelling animals such as horses, hares and dogs.
"Our tests showed that our feet are not as stiff as originally thought and actually form part of a continuum of variation with those of other great apes.
"We hypothesise that despite becoming nearly exclusively ground dwelling we have retained flexibility in the feet to allow us to cope effectively with the differences in hard and soft ground surfaces which we encounter in long distance walking and running," Bates said.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- Rajasthan: Gujjars revive reservation agitation, block rail track
- J Jayalalithaa sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
- Mumbai: One injured in shootout at Film City
- Delhi: Car catches fire after crash, one dead
- ISIS to buy first nuclear weapon from Pak?
- Mumbai: CCTV captures assailant with gun at Film City
- Dr Subhash Chandra Show: Aspiring for more than what you have!
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns movie review: Kangana Ranaut steals the show!
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- PM Narendra Modi graces Digvijay Singh's son wedding reception
- Rahul Gandhi to pressurise govt to act on one-rank-one-pension issue
- Goa Board SSC Exam Results 2015 announced
- CBSE 12th Results 2015: CBSE Board Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic class 12th XII board exam Results 2015 date announced
- ISIS close to buying nuclear weapon from Pakistan?
- Businessman shot next to Amitabh Bachchan's shooting location in Mumbai Film City
- Manohar Parrikar visits forward areas along LoC, reviews security situation
- RBSE 12th Science & Commerce Board Result 2015 declared
- RBSE rajresults.nic.in & rajeduboard.nic.in 12th Results 2015: BSER Ajmer Rajasthan Board Class 12th XII Senior Secondary Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared shortly
- There will be no delay in appointing CIC, CVC: Jitendra Singh
- rajresults.nic.in RBSE Rajasthan Board BSER Class 12th Science and Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared shortly