How Would You Rate Your Toe?

The human toes are highly rated as evolutionary advantages and the product of continued human evolution. While it is easy to underrate them in comparison to other primates with prehensile feet — particularly as humans can no long easily manipulate items with their toes — human toes are well-adapted for survival.

Humans are specially adapted for covering long distances, both walking and running. For walking, humans have evolved to walk flat footed. This is a useful trait for tracking and searching for prey as humans walking on the balls of their feet expend about 53 percent more energy. When running, this energy conservation is no longer applicable, so humans switch to a gait that uses the balls of their feet.

The short toes on a human are adapted for conservation of energy and speed. Throughout nature the swiftest predators move on the balls of their feet. Humans are no exception. While not attaining speeds of other predators, humans are designed well for long-distance running. Even human respiration is geared towards sustained mobility. Aerobic respiration, which humans excel at, is 19 times more efficient at releasing energy than anaerobic respiration. While anaerobic processes are better at generating short bursts of speed, aerobic processes are used for sustained locomotion.