Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/507

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491
THE PREHENSILE FOOT OF EAST INDIANS.

of the foot in the industry of a people advanced in civilization does not appear to me to have been remarked.

The Ectromelians are able to use their feet after a long and patient education, but they seem to serve the part of supplementary organs. A report has been made to the Society of Anthropology (Bulletin, 1875) concerning the Ectromelian Ducornet, who, with only four toes, painted, holding his brush between his two middle toes. I saw one who was exhibited at Marseilles in 1889. He drank, ate, fired guns, played cards, wrote, and played on several instruments of music with his feet. On a closer examination of him it appeared, as is observed in all similar cases, that there was no movement of opposition of the great toe. A special anatomical peculiarity is connected with this physiological function of the foot—the distance between the first and second toes. Let us look into this feature among the Indians, taking for our example the extremely remarkable type of Fig. 1. It represents the foot of a Tamil in Trichinopoly, in which the space be-

PSM V41 D507- Nearest Possible Approach of the First and Second Toes in the same Tamil.jpg
Fig. 2.—Nearest Possible Approach of the First and Second Toes in the same Tamil.

tween the first and second toes was very large from birth. Taking the middle of the extremity of the first and the middle of the second toe, I measured the two points A and B, the distance between which, on a foot placed in its usual position on the ground, was forty-nine millimetres in the right foot and fifty-four millimetres in the left foot. This does not depend upon a simple divergence of the ends of the toes; the base participates in it, and it seems to go back to the metatarso-phalangeal articulation. This distance apart of the toes at the base is fifteen millimetres on the right and sixteen millimetres on the left foot. When this Tamil


    ond toes. In New Guinea, says D'Albertis, natives secure themselves in walking by hooking their great toe to a root or a bit of rock.