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Gene tweak led to human big toe: decrease in GDF6 protein helped enable upright walking.
Small tweaks of one gene may have helped humans to walk upright.
Losing a genetic switch that increases production of a protein called GDF6 may have created the big toe and helped shape the human foot for bipedalism, scientists propose in a paper published online January 7 in Cell. "This change is one that makes all humans different from other animals," says developmental geneticist David Kingsley, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Stanford University.
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