Feet. Those mysterious organs that occur at the end of almost every leg. We take them for granted, never once pondering the evolutionary odyssey responsible for their existence. Listed below are a few facts that you probably never knew about our favorite, crusty, oblong appendages that we abuse daily as they transport us from one place to the next, and to the next, and so on, and so on…
- Feet are relatively a new thing
As surprising as it sounds, feet have only been around for a short time. They were only introduced to the human species sometime around the 1100’s. Up until then, we just banged around on flat nubs. To avoid embarrassment, and the conclusion that all humans were once pirates, early historians erased this fact from our ancestral record. This is often thought to have perpetrated the belief that humans have always had feet, and descended from apes since apes also have feet, and that fact alone makes us much like them.
- Pirates were last
That’s correct. The last humans to accept feet as the evolutionary standard of the time were pirates. They hated the very thought of feet. To them, feet represented conformity, and a farewell to freedom. It’s rumored that they expressed the same feelings of indecisiveness when eyeballs and hands were first introduced. Mostly though, it is a long-held belief that they loved the deep, clunky, vibrating, thonking sounds their stumps made as they plodded around on the decks of their ships. Pirates eventually accepted feet, although slowly as some chose to have only one foot and keep one stump because they were notoriously wishy-washy and they really loved that thonking sound.
- Flaps were first
Our ancestors were nothing if not innovators. Early efforts to create an affordable foot obtainable to even the lower class, and a great rush to bring the product to market, resulted in an inferior product. A simple flap, or “toe,” installed on the front-most part of the original foot provided balance, but resulted in an unwieldy product at best. Soon, five smaller flaps, working independently from each other, replaced the archaic single flap, refining the foot’s balance and propulsion system. This remains the standard for all feet today. However, the multiple toe system has added substantially to the idea that humans descended from apes since they also utilize an independent toe design, and that makes us very much like them.
- Original pig skins
For many years, feet were bound in pig skin. Because of the pigs inability to sweat, feet over heated during long walks. This was fine for those who rode horses, or owned carts, but problematic for rural peasants who lacked transportation and lived far from town. On their way home from the local markets they could be heard shouting obscenities as their hot feet caused them severe pain. During ancient times the term Wee Wee, considered as a noble or pure curse, carried extremely obscene connotations. It became the favored cry for all peasants with feet returning home carrying heavy loads of roast beef. Some people became so appalled at the constant cry of Wee Wee echoing throughout the kingdom that they just simply stayed home, where they eventually starved to death. This led to legal litigation. Lawmakers of the day reduced Wee Wee to its constituent, less offensive parts, which became the standard for curse words still in wide-spread use today; fuck, shit, and damn.
- Only left-over, for women
Women were not allowed to have feet at first, but ultimately won their right to them during the “women’s stumppage movement”. Afterwards, they were still only provided leftover feet from wishy-washy pirates. This practice resulted in mostly left footed women, since pirates almost always placed the foot on their dominant right leg, leaving the left one as a stump. This gave birth to the term “you dance like a woman with two pirate feet”. In a prime example of early political correctness, pirates and women alike protested to amend this to “you dance like you have two left feet”.
- Not always called feet
Amazingly, feet weren’t always called feet. They were originally called narwhals. Why, or who chose this name remains a mystery. Almost a century after the foot’s introduction into mainstream society a narwhal hunter named Ipecac Foot, on an epic expedition in search of his quarry, became gravely disappointed to discover this; especially since he had just spent almost a year banging along on his stumps all the way from the arctic. Separated far from modern society, he had never heard of these things that he would soon be instrumental in re-naming. Narwhal manufacturers, seeking an original moniker, and overjoyed to rid themselves of the clunky name narwhal, honored Ipecac by borrowing his namesake, and sent him home with a new pair of foots. Sadly, he soon after died from a severe case of frost bite on his toes that he received while walking through the snow because shoes hadn’t yet been invented. Coincidentally, soon after the foot identifier replaced the term narwhal, pirates began to warm to the idea of feet. Little known by most, according to a pirate superstition of the day, narwhal tusks contained anti-pirate venom, and would transform a pirate into a peasant accountant–doomed to tally the wealth of others as penance for a life of thievery. The new name removed this stigma from pirate lore.
- Size, at least, did matter
The common assumption that the size of a man’s feet may indicate the size of his genitalia, was actually true, although backwards. Feet were actually sized according to the length of the fully erect male phallus so that he would seem proportional, and not look funny while naked and aroused. Contradictory, apes don’t seem to really care what they look like while naked and aroused. This establishes the greatest gap between human and ape DNA, and proves that some of us, at least, are nothing at all like them. As for women and the size of their feet, they remained at the mercy of the pirates. Interestingly, in Japan, women’s feet were bound to keep them really, really tiny because the Japanese hated pirates and loved to mock them.