Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Most Unfortunate Design Flaws in the Human Body

The Most Unfortunate Design Flaws in the Human Body: The Overly Complicated Human Foot

Anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University put it this way:

Starting with the foot, DeSilva held up a cast with 26 bones and said: "You wouldn't design it out of 26 moving parts." Our feet have so many bones because our ape-like ancestors needed flexible feet to grasp branches. But as they moved out of the trees and began walking upright on the ground in the past 5 million years or so, the foot had to become more stable, and bit by bit, the big toe, which was no longer opposable, aligned itself with the other toes and our ancestors developed an arch to work as a shock absorber. "The foot was modified to remain rigid," said DeSilva. "A lot of BandAids were stuck on these bones." But the bottom line was that our foot still has a lot of room to twist inwards and outwards, and our arches collapse. This results in: ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles. These are not modern problems, due to stiletto heels; Fossils show broken ankles that have healed as far back as 3 million years ago.

1 comment:

Tim Kalantjakos said...

Great point - I think a lot of us forget that the human body doesn't auto-update like an iPhone every 2 seconds just because we have grown accustomed to new modalities for moving within and interacting with our environment.

While I understand and agree with Mr. Desilva's statements, I do, however, have one concern: what about diverse terrain and changes in body composition? If we compromise the flexibility component by evolving "simpler" feet, would we become even worse at walking on sand, uneven terrain, and so on? Maybe the answer is a "happy medium" situation, i.e. not quite 26 but more than 10 bones, etc.

Thank you for the illuminating content - always good to take a step back and recognize not just what you are doing, but why it is the way it is and how it became so. For some lighter (but hopefully still interesting) banter on random foot facts, feel free to follow me to Solemapping.com.

Take care,