Eli5: Why can’t we move our toes individually like we can our fingers?


Eli5: Why can’t we move our toes individually like we can our fingers?

In: Biology

A lot of It has to do with the muscle structure. Muscles in the hand extend from the wrist to the phalanges, each finger connected by it’s own muscle.

Feet on the other hand, have a different network of muscles that control the toes. One larger one for the big toe (the reason you can wiggle it separately), one v shaped muscle that extends from the base of the fibula to the the space between the big toe and the next one over and then across until the space between the pinkie toe. the one last muscle that runs from the ankle to the pinkie toe

An addition: It has a lot to do with evolution. For instance, chimpanzees’ toes are basically as functionable as their hands.

When we transitioned moving on two feet rather than four, the functionality of our toes were not a necessity. Therefore with evolution, they have grown inept over a long time.

Also, some evolutionary predictions suggest that in the future, we might not have toes at all.

To an extent yes, but we also anull that function significantly by wearing shoes.

Still, we sure as hell don’t grab tree branches with our feet like our primate relatives.

I taught myself how to move my pinky toe only on each foot after watching Kill Bill when I was 12. Just saying.

You can train some mobility. I can pick things up with my feet and hand them to my hands. It’s very handy when something gets lost under a desk.

You can’t really move all your fingers individually. Try bending your fourth finger but not your fifth.

It’s not just because your muscles don’t allow it, it’s because evolution has made it unnecessary to maintain the muscles required to do it. Because it’s not useful.

Meanwhile having the 5 toes themselves (even though the strong and controllable muscles are gone) doesn’t seem to actually hurt anything or degrade your ability to survive, reproduce, etc.

So there they still are.

Because there has not been enough evolutionary advantage in doing so. Our monkey ancestors from whom we evolved can’t move their fingers or toes independently –all the fingers move together, just like our toes. Our ape ancestors, more closely related to us than monkeys, do have some ability to move their fingers independently, though they are not as dextrous as humans. But as we evolved away from a more ape-like form, we evolved to have more finger dexterity and also we evolved so that feet would specialize in walking, and not be used to grasp or hold things. I think to a certain extent, though, we could have more dexterity in our feet if we were raised to need them for that purpose. I once saw a video of a woman who was born with no arms and she uses her feet like hands in a very dextrous manner. I don’t recall if she could move her toes independently, but I believe that she could. The ability may be there, but since we don’t use it and aren’t trained to use it, we don’t do it.