ABSTRACT: It is commonly held that the major functional features of the human foot (e.g. a functional longitudinal medial arch, lateral to medial force transfer and hallucal (big-toe) push-off) appear only in the last 2 Myr, but functional interpretations of footbones and footprints of early human ancestors (hominins) prior to 2 million years ago (Mya) remain contradictory. Pixel-wise topographical statistical analysis of Laetoli footprint morphology, compared with results from experimental studies of footprint formation; foot-pressure measurements in bipedalism of humans and non-human great apes; and computer simulation techniques, indicate that most of these functional features were already present, albeit less strongly expressed than in ourselves, in the maker of the Laetoli G-1 footprint trail, 3.66 Mya. This finding provides strong support to those previous studies which have interpreted the G-1 prints as generally modern in aspect.
Journal of The Royal Society Interface 07/2011; 9(69):707-19. · 4.40 Impact Factor