Our Ancestors Had Floppy, Flexible Feet

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Our ape-like ancestors might have walked like today's gibbons, whose super bendy feet give them a floppy strut.

The modern human foot first evolved in our ancestors around 1.8 million years ago, said Evie Vereecke of the University of Liverpool in England. But studies suggest that even before our advanced feet emerged, our mostly tree-climbing ancestors were walking upright for short stints.

Vereecke wanted to find out how they would have done that without specialized walking feet.

She turned to gibbons. This family of primates shares a common ancestor with the great apes (chimps, gorillas, orangutans and humans). Gibbons walk upright up to 12 percent of the time, Vereecke said.

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