FAMI: Day 4 – Wrapping things up

Four full July days spent at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York learning about human anatomy. Four full days of being an occasionally overwhelmed-by-information student, and being impressed and awed to see and touch the nerves, muscles and bones inside a human body. I understand why there were folks who had returned for their second taste of FAMI; there was even one person attending for her third time!

On this last day, a sunny summer Sunday, the exuberantly passionate anatomist Dr Laitman tried to put what we had been studying into an evolutionary and comparative context. One of Laitman’s pet peeves is how people treat their feet. Turns out that the arches in our feet are extremely important in helping us stand using the least amount of energy, because no muscles are needed in the process. However, pop on a pair of high heels, and you need approximately 40 muscles to stand.

What does it matter how many muscles we use? As Dr Laitman explained, “other animals are reliant on muscles; humans rely on skeletal structure and ligaments. Therefore, we can conserve energy and use it for higher cortical functions.”

Just how did we get to our standing position and our walking procedure? Here’s the timeline sketched out by Dr Laitman:

  • 60 millions years ago – primates, our earliest ancestors, had four appendages that functioned as four feet or four hands
  • 30 million years ago – monkeys ambulated on all fours but also used their front feet as hands
  • 20 million years ago – in order to brachiate (swing through trees), lesser apes such as Gibbons developed dexterous hands and fingers
  • 12 million years ago – great apes, among them our closest relatives the gorillas, were able to brachiate when younger and smaller, and utilized their front knuckles in what is called knuckle walking
  • 4 million years ago – there were “habitual bipeds“, animals that used their rear appendages for walking
During all this time, there was

progressive improvement and refinement of walking

from the “quadripedal stance to knuckle walking and brachiating to bipeds.” Now here’s the kicker, if you did not already know – our body, our basic human anatomy, was designed for a mere 25 to 30 year life span.

So here we are several million years later, and what do some of us put on our feet? Yes, that is a 3 inch heel! Purchased 12 years ago. Last worn for this photo shoot, but prior, hmm, too long ago to recall.

Dr Laitman’s request to us all:

Respect your body. Understand what it was not designed to do.


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