Supportive shoes date to 40,000 years

August 24, 2005

Modern-type supportive shoes came into existence between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago, a Washington University professor has determined.

Erik Trinkaus, a professor of physical anthropology, argues early humans living in far northern climates began placing insulation on their feet around 500,000 years ago. But frequency of use and the actual mechanical protection provided by the footwear was unclear.

Lacking physical evidence, Trinkaus analyzed the foot bones of western Eurasian Middle Paleolithic and middle Upper Paleolithic humans.

"I discovered the bones of the little toes of humans from that time frame were much less strongly built than those of their ancestors, while their leg bones remained large and strong," Trinkaus said. "The most logical cause would be the introduction of supportive footwear."

During barefoot walking, the smaller toes flex for traction, keeping the toe bones strong, he explained. Supportive footwear lessens the roll of the little toes, thus weakening them.

His research appeared in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers show elephants really do have a sixth toe

Related Stories

Researchers show elephants really do have a sixth toe

December 23, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sometimes it seems, nature finds it must resort to some trickery to respond appropriately to changing conditions. Take the elephant, for example. Way back in time, say fifty million years ago, the hulking ...

Don't suffer in silence with toe pain

August 1, 2011

While deformities of the lesser toes (all toes other than the big toe) can be very painful, there are numerous surgical and nonsurgical treatments for these conditions that are usually quite effective. A literature review ...

Keeping dancers on their toes

August 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New technique allows MRIs of ballet dancers en pointe, aiding injury treatment and prevention.

Recommended for you

Glacial moulin formation triggered by rapid lake drainage

January 18, 2018

Scientists are uncovering the mystery of how, where and when important glacial features called moulins form on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Moulins, vertical conduits that penetrate through the half-mile-deep ice, efficiently ...

Looking to the sun to create hydrogen fuel

January 18, 2018

When Lawrence Livermore scientist Tadashi Ogitsu leased a hydrogen fuel-cell car in 2017, he knew that his daily commute would change forever. There are no greenhouse gases that come out of the tailpipe, just a bit of water ...

A new, dynamic view of chromatin movements

January 18, 2018

In cells, proteins tightly package the long thread of DNA into pearl necklace-like complexes known as chromatin. Scientists at EPFL show for the first time how chromatin moves, answering longstanding questions about how its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.