Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/506

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lower limb to engage in wide movements. The position is very different from that of our tailors or of the Arabs. It brings the knees to a level with the chest. The man is supported on his ischia and his feet; and he keeps in this position for whole hours, while we can maintain it only for a few minutes. It is their way of resting, and we can see them by groups squatting in this manner, and smoking. In the second place, the articulation of the instep and the medio-tarsal permit wide lateral movements of the foot, as in

PSM V41 D506-Showing the Enormous Distance between the First and Second Toes in a Tamil of Trichinofoly.jpg
Fig. 1.—Showing the Enormous Distance between the First and Second Toes in a Tamil of Trichinofoly.

the examples of the shoemaker, joiner, comb-maker, and turner; and on the toes, which are peculiarly flexible, as with the butcher cutting meat and the child climbing trees.

The great toe is capable of considerable lateral movements from the second toe, so that the Indian can easily pick up articles from the ground with his foot, and even exert some force sidewise.

But great as is their skill, there is no movement of opposition between the great toe and the other toes, as there is in the monkey. The great toe has very extended movements of adduction and abduction, and of elevation and depression, but all is limited.[1] The property is frequent among savages and half-civilized peoples. Broca pointed out in 1869 the part which the foot could be made to serve. Morice has remarked that the great toe of the Annamites could be used by them in picking up small objects; and he saw a boatman take his hand from the helm and steer very correctly with his foot, while he rolled his cigarette.[2]

In French and foreign treatises on anthropology I find Ranke's work, entitled Der Mensch, the only one in which the function of the toes as organs of prehension is mentioned; and the feet of Japanese rope-dancers and jugglers have been examined with reference to this point by Luce.[3] But the constant use


  1. Sir Richard Wallace says that, with all the savages he ever saw, he never observed movements of opposition.
  2. Bulletin de la Societé d'Anthropologie, session of the 18th of February, 1875.
  3. Travelers have often mentioned similar facts in their narratives. Horsemen in Abyssinia, according to G. Pouchet, hold the straps of their stirrups between the first and sec-