Some of us still possess ape-like feet

Does this make my feet look baboonish?: Some folks among us have more ape-like feet than others.
Does this make my feet look baboonish?: Some folks among us have more ape-like feet than others.Courtesy Mark Ryan
A recent study of visitors to the Boston Museum of Science has revealed that some humans - about 1 in 13 - have feet that are ape-like in their structure.

Our great-ape cousins such as chimpanzees have feet that are very flexible in their middle region due to something called the midtarsal break that allows their feet to bend in the middle, enabling them to grasp at branches for easier climbing through trees. So when a chimp lifts his foot off the ground, it just flops about - there's nothing to hold the bones together. Most humans, on the other hand (or should I say foot?), have the same joint but have ligaments that stretch across it making the foot more rigid and stable for upright walking. Australopithecus sediba, a human ancestor that lived 2 million years ago, has a foot structure that is more ape-like than human, so somewhere along the line our feet evolved probably to accommodate our bipedalism.

The study was done by Jeremy DeSilva, a functional morphologist from Boston University, whose main interest is the evolution of the human foot and ankle. In this recent study, museum visitors were requested to walk barefoot across a mechanized carpet while DeSilva's team observed their gaits and the structure of their feet as they walked.

The surprising results showed that 8 percent of the nearly 400 participants possessed a flexible midtarsal break in their foot, and displayed a pressure signature in their footprint that looked like that found in the footprints of non-human primates. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that those subjects who had the unusual foot-joint structure weren't even aware of it until DeSilva revealed it to them.

The study was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

BBC.com story
Popsci.com story
Jeremy DeSilva cv

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Santiago Hidalgo's picture
Santiago Hidalgo says:


posted on Sat, 06/15/2013 - 5:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I know a lot of feet that smell like an ape!

posted on Sat, 06/29/2013 - 1:42pm
jordyn's picture
jordyn says:

my kinda friend has that her feet are big

posted on Wed, 07/10/2013 - 2:09pm
Rick Astley's picture
Rick Astley says:

As a runner, I would really be interested to know how one would determine whether or not one posessed such a thing, and how that might effect one during a run.

posted on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 6:24pm
#RainbowColors's picture
#RainbowColors says:

its seams possible with all the data you have and some peoples feet smell like ape feet LOL


posted on Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:40pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options