Twin Toes

5 May

When I was a little kid, I was terrified that one day I would win the olympics for swimming.  I would have dreams getting out of the water, toweling off, reaching for my gold medal, which was yanked away from me right before I could take hold of it.  “She’s got webbed feet!” someone would scream, “She’s disqualified.”  And there I’d be, dripping wet, feet webbed, and without my medal.

The dream wasn’t entirely fictitious. While I have no talent for swimming and have never entered the olympics, I do have webbed appendages on both of my feet- the second and third toes on both feet:


It may seem like my childhood fears indicate some insecurity or self-hatred surrounding my little piggies, but I assure you that I’m very happy with my toes. In fact, I think everyone else has very weird looking feet.  But it just occurred to me the other day that my feet seem SO normal, I never thought to really investigate the reasons for my little genetic deformity.  I did a little research yesterday and found the following:

  • The technical term for conjoined fingers or toes is “syndactyly.” Complete syndactyly refers to the digits being joined all the way to the tips. Incomplete refers to the digits being joined only part of the way up (as in my case).
  • Syndactyly results when digits do not separate during embryonic development.  All of our hands start out as little hand lumps.  Then, cells in between what would be our digits die off, carving out our fingers and toes.  This process called apotosis and discussed in length here, but beware the foot in this picture is, by my estimation, nowhere cute as mine.  Syndactyly is apparently the result of very stubborn cells that don’t want to die and resist apotosis. This can be without apparent cause or because of a genetic syndrome.
  • Syndactyly occurs in about 1 of every 2,500 births.  It’s most common in Caucasions.  
  • The most common toes to be webbed are the second and third.

So there you are. Now you can fully understand my genetic freakery, which I cannot assure you does not in anyway enhance my abilities as a swimmer.


5 Responses to “Twin Toes”

  1. liz May 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Dale! I didn’t know this about you! Awesome… I’m jealous! Let’s work on your swimming abilities this summer or just lay around in kiddie pools all summer!

  2. Bob June 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    I really love your toes. They really are cuter than most toes. I feel the same as you as I too have webbed toes. They look similar to yours. I always wear sandals and like to show them off. It’s a great conversation starter.

  3. Kaics March 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    My beautiful four year-old son has incomplete syndactyly on one foot. I hate feet as a general rule so I think God did this to teach me a lesson:) I love my sons feet and his “pecial toed” – as he calls them (he doesn’t say “s” very well).

  4. Jenna July 24, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Oh my gosh! I have the same thing! And I completely think that mine are normal and other peoples toes are the weird ones! People tell me I am strange for thinking that, but I am glad to see that I am not the only one.

  5. Keri Peardon July 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    My toes look exactly like yours (second and third joined partway up). My mother’s doctor delivered this news to her as if it was a major birth defect. She said she about killed him for scaring her. Her brother has the same thing, as does one of my great-aunts on my father’s side. Obviously there is a genetic trait to it.

    I used to think about it a lot more when I was a kid; now I forget about it. Although, when I was looking at “barefoot shoes,” I had to laugh at the ones which are toe shoes (like toe socks); won’t work on my feet!

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