Monday, 27 August 2007

The foot and other evidence from the lower limb provide clear evidence for bipedal locomotion

A 3.3-million-year-old fossilised remains of a human-like child have been unearthed in Ethiopia's Dikika region, providing an opportunity to study the skeletal remainns of a child.The body was believed to be covered soon after death by floodwater and has remained preserved in a block of sandstone, taking a team lead by Zeresenay Alemseged, five years to excavate.

The cranial evidence indicates a slow, indicating a gradual development with an extended childhood, which is regarded as a very human trait - probably to enable our higher functions to develop.
The foot and other evidence from the lower limb provide clear evidence for bipedal locomotion.


Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Origin of Bipedalism, seems most closely tied to environmental changes

During the past 100 years, scientists have tossed around a great many hypotheses about the evolutionary route to bipedalism, to what inspired our prehuman ancestors to stand up straight and amble off on two feet.
Now, after an extensive study of evolutionary, anatomical and fossil evidence, a team of paleoanthropologists has narrowed down the number of tenable hypotheses to explain bipedalism and our prehuman ancestors’ method of navigating their world before they began walking upright.
The hypothesis they found the most support for regarding the origin of bipedalism is the one that says our ancestors began walking upright largely in response to environmental changes – in particular, to the growing incidence of open spaces and the way that changed the distribution of food.
In response to periods of cooling and drying, which thinned out dense forests and produced “mosaics” of forests, woodlands and grasslands, it seems likely that “some apes maintained a
forest-oriented adaptation, while others may have begun to exploit forest margins and grassy woodlands,” said paleoanthropologist Brian Richmond, lead author in the new study. The process of increasing commitment to bipediality probably involved “an extended and complex opening of habitats, rather than a single, abrupt transition from dense forest to open savanna,” he said.
Richmond, from the University of Illinois, with anthropologist David Begun from the University of Toronto and David Strait from the department of anatomy at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, describe their findings, which involved a comprehensive review and analyses of the five leading hypotheses on the origin of bipedalism, in a recent issue of the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. Other hypotheses that remain viable, according to the team: “freeing” the hands for carrying or for some kind of tool use, and an increased emphasis on foraging from branches of small fruit trees, which is the context in which modern chimpanzees spend the most time on two legs.
For their study, the researchers combined data from biomechanics – movement and posture, pressure distributions and strain gauge – and from finger-shape growth and development. They found that our prehuman ancestors had terrestrial features in the hands and feet, climbing features throughout the skeleton, and knuckle-walking features in the wrist and hand; that finger curvature is responsive to changes in arboreal activity during growth. Evidence from the wrist joint, in particular, “suggests that the earliest humans evolved bipedalism from an ancestor adapted for knuckle-walking on the ground and climbing in trees.”
The YPA article, according to Richmond, is “the first attempt in decades to bring together all of the available evidence for the argument that the earliest human biped evolved from ancestors that both knuckle-walked and climbed trees, rather than from ancestors living exclusively in trees and ‘coming down from the trees,’ or walking on the ground in ways similar to modern baboons.”>

The evolution of human running: Effects of changes in lower-limb length on locomotor economy

Previous studies have differed in expectations about whether long limbs should increase or decrease the energetic cost of locomotion. It has recently been shown that relatively longer lower limbs (relative to body mass) reduce the energetic cost of human walking. Here we report on whether a relationship exists between limb length and cost of human running. Subjects whose measured lower-limb lengths were relatively long or short for their mass (as judged by deviations from predicted values based on a regression of lower-limb length on body mass) were selected. Eighteen human subjects rested in a seated position and ran on a treadmill at 2.68 m s−1 while their expired gases were collected and analyzed; stride length was determined from videotapes. We found significant negative relationships between relative lower-limb length and two measures of cost. The partial correlation between net cost of transport and lower-limb length controlling for body mass was r = −0.69 (p = 0.002). The partial correlation between the gross cost of locomotion at 2.68 m s−1 and lower-limb length controlling for body mass was r = −0.61 (p = 0.009). Thus, subjects with relatively longer lower limbs tend to have lower locomotor costs than those with relatively shorter lower limbs, similar to the results found for human walking. Contrary to general expectation, a linear relationship between stride length and lower-limb length was not found.

Karen L. Steudel-Numbers , Timothy D. Weaver\and Cara M. Wall-Schefflera
Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Received 19 September 2006; accepted 9 April 2007. Available online 14 June 2007. Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 608 263 5079; fax: +1 608 265 6320.1 Current address: Department of Anthropology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Opinions from podiatrists practising accupuncture?

Oetzi The Tyrolean Iceman - European Acupuncture 2000 Years before China?

The Tyrolean Iceman (1), by far the oldest European mummified human body (5200 years old), shows 15 well-preserved tattoo groups on his back and legs, none of which appears to have ornamental importance. The tattoos have a simple linear geometric shape and are located on parts of the body that are not expected to be displayed (2). Moreover, several tattoos that would have entailed superficial skin puncture seem to be located on Chinese acupuncture points.
puncture seem to be located on Chinese acupuncture points.
The tattoos were therefore investigated morphometrically, and photographs were subsequently overlayed by topographic representations of acupuncture points (3). According to the expert opinion of three accredited acupuncturists (4), nine of the 15 tattoos could be identified as being located on or within 5 millimeters of acupuncture points. Five tattoo groups on the back of the Iceman were located in close proximity, or directly over, acupuncture points of the urinary bladder (UB) channel. A close match between the acupuncture point UB 60 and one of the two tattoo crosses near the left, lateral ankle was observed.
The theory of acupuncture predicts that perforation or irritation of the skin at specific locations, the acupuncture points, results in modified function of related, not necessarily adjacent, organs, allowing relief of pain or inflammation.
It is known from computer tomography (5) that the iceman suffered from arthrosis of the lumbar spine. Acupuncture points used for treatment of this condition (3) coincide with tattoos found along the UB channel.
These findings raise the possibility that the practice of therapeutically intended acupuncture originated long before the medical tradition of ancient China (approximately 1000 B.C.) and that its geographical origins were Eurasian rather than East-Asian, consistent with far-reaching intercultural contacts of prehistoric mankind.

H. Seidler et al., Science, 258, 455 (1992); K. Spindler, The Man in the Ice (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1994).
T. Sjøvold et al., in Der Mann im Eis, K. Spindler et al., Eds. (Springer, Vienna-New York, 1995), vol. 2, pp. 279-286.
3. Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing colleges of traditional Chinese medicine, Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1980).
F. Bahr, L. Dorfer, and S. Suwanda, presi
presidents of the German, Austrian, and Swiss academies of acupuncture, respectively.

D. zur Nedden and K. Wicke, in Der Mann im Eis, F. Höpfel, W. Platzer, K. Spindler, Eds. (Univ. of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria, 1992), vol. 1, pp. 131-148.

Source: The Journal of Chinese Medicine


Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Interesting questions on foot evolution?

Palaeopodiatry :would like to thank Robert for sharing his work with us.

Dr.Robert Kidd. BA (Hons) PhD, Associate Professor,Human Anatomy School of Biomedical and Health ScienceUniversity of Western Sydney

Little Foot and big thoughts—a re-evaluation of the Stw573 foot from
Sterkfontein, South Africa
R. Kidd, C. Oxnard ,HOMO—Journal of Comparative Human Biology 55 (2005) 189–212

The part of the fossil assemblage Stw573 consisting of some medial foot bones was initially reported by Clarke & Tobias (Science 269 (2002) 521). They found it to have both ape- and human-like qualities, being human-like proximally and ape-like distally. We have undertaken a re-examination of this pedal assemblage using a multivariate analysis; We report an essentiallyape-like morphology proximally and a human-like morphology distally; the talus and navicular were found to be ape-like and the medial cuneiform human-like.


That the human foot evolved from some variety of primitive hominoid ancestral stock is not held in doubt. In doing so it has changed in many features, some large scale and obvious, others more subtle. Three large scale modifications stand apart. These may be summarised as follows: (1) a change in the size and proportions of the pedal skeletal segments with the tarsus becoming much greater in humans; (2) the presence of a divergent first ray and opposable first digit in all apes but not in humans; and (3) the presence of the related longitudinal and transverse arch structures in humans but their absence in all other hominoids. These major features, plus a myriad of minor ones distinguish the human foot from that of apes. There is little doubt that the human foot evolved in a mosaic manner, with certain critical features attaining a human form before others. To understand their sequence, a number of questions need to be answered. For instance, did the lateral pedal column, broadly describing the lateral longitudinal arch, become human-like before or after the medial longitudinal arch? Similarly, did the first toe achieve a state of apposition before or after arch formation? And at what stage did the segmental
proportions of the evolving foot become human-like? Some clue may be found by scrutiny of the fossil record, though this is frustratingly sparse with no complete prehuman specimens being available. The most complete is that from East Africa, the OH8 foot from Olduvai, but even this is missing certain vital parts, namely portions of the calcaneus, the metatarsal heads and all digits.

In a previous study (Kidd et al 1994, 1996) the four hindmost tarsal elements of this foot were studied morphometrically and unequivocal evidence for mixed functional affinities was found, the medial side being ape-like and the lateral column (with due caveat for the incomplete calcaneus) being human-like. The medial cuneiform was not reported. Clarke and Tobias (1995) also report on a fossil foot assemblage, that known as Stw573, consisting of the talus, navicular, medial cuneiform and first ray fragment from Sterkfontein Cave, Member 2 and attributed to the species Australopithecus africanus. They also observed mixed affinities, both human- and ape-like features, though in a manner differing from our findings with OH8; they describe the talus to be essentially human-like, the navicular to be of mixed ape and human morphology, and the medial cuneiform to be largely ape-like. Their findings are clearly in conflict with those of the OH8 study, and they do not seem to be reconcilable with either the OH8 findings of Kidd et al (1996), nor the model of human pedal evolution predicted in part from the OH8 study (Kidd 1995, 1998, 1999). The basis of the findings of Clarke and Tobias is not quantitative; they do not report a metrical analysis. It is appropriate, therefore, to undertake a morphometric analysis of the Stw573 fossil assemblage to establish the functional affinities of the tarsal elements and to see if the quite different findings of the two assemblages may be reconciled. In addition, in order to present a complete and unambiguous picture, the OH8 foot is revisited with an analysis of the medial cuneiform to complete the analyses presented in Kidd et al (1996).

Shoe Historian

A collection of short anecdotes and funny stories about feet and shoes. The sum total will mean, read this and you will never trust yourself alone with a pair of shoes again. Cameron Kippen is a shoe historian and podiatrist, interested in informing and entertaining readers fascinated by feet and shoes.

foot talk (link)

Monday, 6 August 2007

One million old footprints

Pakistani archaeologists have found two, over one million years old human footprints preserved on sandstone in the Margalla Hills, which surround the capital.World-renowned archaeologist and historian Dr Ahmad Hassan Dani of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations, Quaid-i-Azam University, made the discovery.
A footprint of one foot is in complete and well-preserved form, while another is broken from the finger side, which is also of the same size in comparative manner, the Dawn reports. The notable marks of the feet are the clear veins and opposite folded appearance, the report adds.
According to Dr. Azad, further research of the footmarks using anthropological and geophysical methods, might give more clues.The recent discovery is the continuity of the Indusian Research Cell's earlier research about human evolution, which previously revealed a fossilised upper jaw from the site of Dhudhumber, foot, and handprints from Attock and Palaeolithic cave from the Margalla Hills.

Pakistan is said to have abundant fossilised evidences of Pre-Cambrian to Holocene epochs, the earliest evidences of the anthropoid existence, the earliest cultural centre at Mehargarh (contemporary of Jericho and Jarmo) and most advanced civilisation of the world (Indus Valley). According to Dr. Azad the formation of the Margalla Hills goes back to the Miocene epoch. The dominant limestone of the Margalla is also mixed with the sand stone.

Pasted from, Islamabad, July 28,2007:

Tianyuan-toebone "...pushes back earliest known evidence for footware by 10,000 years....Professor Eric Trinkaus."

China's earliest modern human

The remains of one of the earliest modern humans to inhabit eastern Asia have been unearthed in a cave in China. Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing. Radiocarbon dates, obtained directly from the bones, show the person lived between 42,000 and 39,000 years ago.
"For this time period, which is critical for understanding the spread of modern humans around the world, we have two well-dated human fossils from eastern Asia," said co-author Professor Erik Trinkaus, from Washington University in St Louis, US. "We have remains from the Niah Cave from Sarawak on Borneo, and now this specimen from China. As you go west, the next specimens are from Lebanon. There's nothing in between."
The Tianyuan remains display diagnostic features of modern H. sapiens. But co-author Erik Trinkaus and his colleagues argue, controversially, that the bones also display features characteristic of earlier human species, such as relatively large front teeth. The most likely explanation, they argue, is interbreeding between early modern humans emerging from Africa and the archaic populations they encountered in Europe and Asia.
The view of interbreeding between Homo sapiens and archaic humans is controversial. Other palaeoanthropologists say that some of these features are simply retained from ancient African ancestors. And most genetic evidence gathered from present-day humans does not appear to support significant interbreeding between modern humans from Africa and archaics.
The researchers' analysis of the bones has revealed several interesting details about the Tianyuan individual's lifestyle. The person's age at death was estimated by how much the teeth had worn down. This put the individual in their late 40s or 50s. But the lack of a pelvis among the remains means that it is not possible to say with any certainty what sex the human was. The Tianyuan specimen shows several signs of disease. The individual had lost a number of teeth before death, not unusual considering their age. The researchers also identified several lesions, or growths, on the leg bones, which appear to have been caused by a condition affecting the muscle attachments around both knees. Whatever condition these were caused by, however, it does not appear to have disabled the person, because the remainder of the leg bones suggest they kept active. The single toe bone [the second proximal phalanx] which was unearthed seems to suggest the individual wore shoes, pushing back the earliest known evidence for footwear by about 10,000 years.
An earlier study by Professor Trinkaus shows that human small toes became weaker during the stage of prehistory known as the Upper Palaeolithic, and that this can probably be attributed to the adoption of sturdy shoes. The invention of rugged shoes reduced humans' reliance on strong, flexile toes to grip and balance.
Sources: EurekAlert! (2 April 2007)

The origin of human bipedalism
While no one has an authoritative answer, anthropologists have long theorized that early humans began walking on two legs as a way to reduce locomotor energy costs.
In the first study to fully examine this theory among humans and adult chimpanzees, published online July 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have found that human walking is around 75 percent less costly, in terms of energy and caloric expenditure, than quadrupedal and bipedal walking in chimpanzees.
That energy savings could have provided early hominids with an evolutionary advantage over other apes by reducing the cost of foraging for food.
Conducted by Herman Pontzer, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis; Michael Sokol of University of California, Davis; and David Raichlen of University of Arizona, the study used treadmill trials to analyze walking energetics and biomechanics for adult chimpanzees and humans.
The only other research study on chimpanzee locomotor cost, conducted in 1973, used juvenile chimpanzees, which have different locomotor mechanics and costs than adults.
The team also examined the early hominin fossil record, which they found to include predicted changes consistent with lower energy cost- longer hind legs compared to body mass and structural changes to the pelvic bone allowing for more upright walking.
Analysis of these features in early fossil hominins, coupled with with analysis of bipedal walking in chimpanzees, indicate that bipedalism in early, ape-like hominins could indeed have been less costly than quadrupedal knucklewalking.
“Walking upright on two legs is a defining feature that makes us human,” said Pontzer. “It distinguishes our entire lineage from all other apes.

Public release date: Eurekalert ,16-Jul-2007.
Contact: Herman Pontzer
Washington University in St. Louis

Friday, 3 August 2007

Ancestral footprints

The importance of the fossil footprints shows that early humans were bipedal as early as four million years ago. The Laetoli footprints were discovered in 1978, in a remote part of Tanzania by Andrew Hill, a paleontologist and professor at Yale University; working with Mary Leakey's research team.

Approximately four million years ago, a volcano erupted blanketing the landscape with volcanic ash. Following precipitation, the ash became like plaster; producing an ideal surface for footprint impressions of the numerous animals.In time the surface turned into a hard cement preserving its captured tell-tale signs .
A member of our early human species, Australopithecus afarensis, provided a record of their passing, the fossil footprints indicate two individuals, walking side by side.

Ancient prosthesis

As a profession what consensus of opinion can we provide for the functionality of this prosthesis?

In 2002, members of the Egyptian-German mission working in the Qurna area of the Theban West Bank made the discovery. It was made in the accumulated debris in the rock cut shaft of the New Kingdom tomb of Mery, a priest of Amun in the reign of Amenothep II. However, the tomb was reused for the burial of nobles of the late Twentieth and early Twenty-first Dynasties and the opinion at the time-as reported in Al Ahram issue 599,-was that the artificial toe belonged to a high ranking Theban lady of that period.I consider that the lady did walk with this prosthesis in place, which resulted in the wear marks to the plantar surface of the prosthesis. But, without functionality to aid her walking, I believe the cosmetic qualities of were the prime commodity addressing her psychosocial needs and the religious burial requirements that were expected during her lifetime.


Welcome to...palaeopodiatry..., archaeological and anthropological evidence which relates to podiatry. A new learning resource and direction for podiatry.