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Monday, April 21, 2014

Big toe and genetics: The long and the short of it




In some feet the big toe (or hallux) is longer than the second toe, while other people have the big toe shorter than the second toe. The length of the digits is thought by many to be controlled by controlled by one gene with two alleles, with the allele for the shorter hallux dominant to the allele for larger hallux. Despite this commonly held belief there is no good evidence to support the hypothesis and the small number of studies of toe length gives contradictory results. 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. Toe length alone does not demonstrate basic genetics.

2 comments:

tim c said...

There is a controversy in the art world at the moment, and it would be interesting to know your opinions about a lady's toe abnormality. The artist is Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the picture is of Venus, dated 1532. It belongs to the Stadel museum, Germany.
I attach a link to a website, because the images are copyright of the Cranach Digital Archive. When you enlarge the high definition image, it appears that the hallux is shorter than the next toe, and possibly the middle toe as well.
http://lucascranach.org/DE_SMF_1125/image

Toeslayer dot said...

The model may have a unilateral anatomical shortening of the left big toe (Hallux) which would be more likely familial, than acquired through surgery (given the period). But it is possible. In my opinion (for what it is worth), the apparent shortening is an optical illusion caused by a lack of perspective. She has a unilateral hallux abducto-valgus deformity (bunion), which the artist has not quite captured on a flat surface.