The Point

The Point: Cinderella, Lucy, and Ape Feet


John Stonestreet

If the shoe doesn’t fit…

In the original fairy tale, Cinderella’s evil stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to make the glass slipper fit. It seems some scientists have taken a similar approach with the fossil record. Back in the 70s, scientists touted that “Lucy”—or more accurately, fragments of “Lucy,” were from an ancient transitional species between apes and humans. As a recent WORLD article described, researchers pointed to Lucy’s spinal cord and pelvis as evidence the creature walked on two feet.

Now a more complete skeleton of Lucy’s species has been found, but this time, the skeleton that was discovered came with feet—very ape-like feet: a curved big toe made for climbing and a heel much smaller than a human heel. No Cinderella feet here.

The mistake was imposing interpretations on an incomplete skeleton instead of waiting for conclusive evidence. Like Cinderella’s stepsisters, the evidence was forced to fit the story. That’s not science. That’s make-believe.

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