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10 Worst Adaptations in the Animal Kingdom

        Science | Evolution

9
Pinky Toes
How do you think you'd manage without those little guys on the end? Design Pics/Thinkstock
How do you think you'd manage without those little guys on the end? Design Pics/Thinkstock

Humans do not need their pinky toes.

Without your pinky toes, you could walk. You could run. You could be the prima ballerina at the Bolshoi Ballet. (That's unconfirmed, but we can dream.) Basically, whatever you as a modern human need and want to do, you're set even without the little guys. According to a 1990 study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 160 subjects put the least amount of pressure on their pinky toes while walking and standing [source: Hughes et al.]. Big toes withstood three times as much pressure [source: Hughes et al.]. But if you go way, way back to our primate ancestors, you'd be hard-pressed to live happily without your smallest piggy.

Those ancestors needed far more functional toes and feet; they had to grab limbs to swing from, and scramble quickly up or around inhospitable terrain. So having a pinky toe that -- at one time, at least -- functioned dexterously was pretty important. Now, of course, our toes just help us stand around when we're waiting in line for Starbucks. But while we don't need the pinky toe per se, if we didn't have the metatarsal bone that connects that pinky toe to our ankle, we'd be extremely unbalanced as the middle and inside of our foot couldn't properly distribute our weight [source: Zhang].


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