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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Human Toe Length Myth Busted

     Those silly posts one sees on places like Facebook that claim your toe length reveal your personality are a myth. For example:

     If the piggy that went to market, is longer than the others, it means you're bright and creative. You creatively solve your problems and can easily think outside of the box. You find it difficult to stay focused, however, and tend to abandon projects partway through. If it's smaller than the other toes, it indicates pretty much the opposite. You're an effective multitasker but you tend to do things by the books.
     If the piggy that stayed home is longer, you are a born leader. You're great at managing people and coordinating efforts. You're energetic and resourceful and stand up for what you believe in. If it's shorter than the others, it means you may have trouble standing up for yourself, though you are more level-headed.

     If the little piggy had roast beef is longer, you tend to have a more dynamic personality and are successful in your field of work. This toe is linked with your energy and willpower, as well as your drive. You tend to be a perfectionist. If it is shorter, you live a simpler life and enjoy the small things. Chilling out is your go-to.
     If the piggy that had NO roast beef is long and straight, you care deeply about your family life. Personal matters come before anything else and you're a wonderful listener. Your family is where you draw your strength. If it is shorter and curved, you may need to unwind a little bit, as you're prone to being a worrier. Focus on your family and love life.
     If the toe that said wee, wee, wee all the way home is very little, it may indicate that you don't handle responsibilities all that well and you get easily bored and lose focus. You're a joker and tend to be well liked, but responsibilities aren't your strong suit.
     And, if your little toe wiggles independently of the others, it indicates an adventurous, charming, impulsive spirit. There is NO basis in fact for any of that.

     Most of us have come to realize the power of opposable thumbs. Without a thumb we would struggle to open jars, use a hammer, shake hands or hundreds of other things. But have you ever considered your toes?
     They could be a matter of balance. After all, six toes on one foot and four on the other would make walking difficult because it would result in an inconvenient list to one side. But, nobody knows why ten is the magic number.
     One theory is the Limb Law developed by a fellow named Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist. According to Limb Law, a mathematical formula can be used to explain the number of limbs an insect or animal would need based on how long its limbs are. The shorter the limbs, the more that are necessary.
     According to the law, fingers and toes should be considered limbs of the hands and feet. We need enough, but not too many, fingers so that we can perform certain tasks: make a fist, grasp objects and more. Turns out, the correct ratio for the human hand is five. Convenient, considering that's the way most people are born.
     Scientists are pretty convinced 10 is a good number for appendages on the feet and hands and more is not better. Adding a sixth finger to each hand or a sixth toe to each foot wouldn't offer much in the way of improvement. We don't need six fingers to grasp an object, and a sixth finger would just get in the way for many tasks, including the ability to make a fist. However, adding to the confusion is that robotic hands used as prosthetics actually have been shown to be nearly as effective with two, three or four fingers instead of five.
     Toes. In some people, the big toe is longer than the second toe (called "L," for long big toe), while other people have the big toe shorter than the second toe ("S"). This is sometimes said to controlled by one gene with two alleles (one of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome), with the allele for S dominant to the allele for L. There is no good evidence for this myth as the small number of toe length studies give contradictory results.
     Actually, the relative length of the big and second toes varies considerably and there aren't just two categories of toe length. Some studies have found about 5 percent of the populations have the big toe and second toe equal in length and six percent of people have the big toe longer on one foot and the second toe longer on the other foot. Studies indicate that while there is clearly a genetic component, many people do not fit the model. Whether the big toe is longer or shorter than the second toe is influenced by genetics, but it may be determined by more than one gene, or by a combination of genetics and the environment.

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