Only slightly more likely to attract fetishists. Researchers at the University of Liverpool studies more than 25,000 steps made on a pressure-sensitive treadmill at the University’s Gait Lab. The results indicate that our feet are not the wonderful mechanisms of human genetic superiority but are closer those of great apes, the other humanoids on the planet.
Among the surprising findings of the study is that despite coming down from the trees evolutionary wise, we still retain a lot of the characteristics, foot wise, of our cousins in the orangutan and chimpanzee worlds. Of course, as we all know, those stinkin’ apes still live in trees, while we continue to look for that nice two bedroom craftsman near Studio City.
The University’s own information source goes into more detail below on how the relationship between the fall of the foot on the ground, and the gait, were believed to have implications in determining long term health and the onset of disease but that this research disproves such notions to some degree:
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.
Dr Karl Bates, from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, said: “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.
“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. The next part of our study will be testing this theory, which could offer a reason why humans can outrun a horse, for example, over long distances on irregular terrain.”