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From Flat Foot to Fat Foot: Structure, Ontogeny, Function, and Evolution of Elephant “Sixth Toes”

, 1. John R. Hutchinson1, 2. Cyrille Delmer2, 3. Charlotte E. Miller1, 4. Thomas Hildebrandt3, 5. Andrew A. Pitsillides1, 6. Alan Boyde4

Our survey shows that basal proboscideans were relatively “flat-footed” (plantigrade), whereas early elephantiforms evolved the more derived “tip-toed” (subunguligrade) morphology, including the predigits and fat pad, of extant elephants. Thus, elephants co-opted sesamoid bones into a role as false digits and used them for support as they changed their foot posture.



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