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"You may be walking around on chimp-like feet without knowing it," says the New Scientist. "At least one in 13 of us has feet that are specially adapted for climbing trees. Textbooks will tell you that the human foot is rigid, which allows more efficient walking. Other apes, in contrast, have flexible feet better suited to grasping branches as they move through the trees. But the textbooks are wrong, say Jeremy DeSilva and Simone Gill at Boston University. The pair asked 400 adults to walk barefoot around the Boston Museum of Science while they filmed their feet. This revealed that 8 per cent of people had some mid-foot flexibility, rather like that seen in tree-dwelling apes."

To bee or not to bee?

"Why are spelling bees mainly an American phenomenon?" asks a Washington Post blog. "One major reason is that spelling bees are only really challenging in English, a language that has borrowed lots of roots and words from other languages and has all sorts of odd vowel sounds and spelling irregularities. By contrast, a Spanish or German or Russian spelling bee would be boring – as soon as you can sound out a word, you can probably spell it."

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Big feet can be sexy

"Anthropologists studying the Karo Batak people living in scattered rural villages in northern Sumatra have found that men there are more attracted to women with big feet," reports The Daily Telegraph. "They say this contradicts theories that humans are hard-wired to prefer a universal set of physical features that evolved tens of thousands of years ago. In most societies, men report finding women with petite features, including feet, as more attractive. … Dr. Geoff Kushnick, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who conducted the latest research, said the Karo Batak may prefer large feet in their partners as it suggests they can move more easily when working in rice-paddy fields."

Hurrah, it's Monday

"Emerging research suggests the way to get ahead in a competitive workplace is to really believe in what you do," says Psych Central. A new Brigham Young University business study, reported online in the management journal Organization Science, revealed that employees who are "true believers" in the mission of their organization are more likely to increase in status and influence than non-believers.

16-year-old's bar bill

A Japanese adolescent, says Reuters, went on quite the joy ride after snagging his dad's credit card and racking up a $56,000 bar tab during a one-night club binge. "The teenager and a friend made the rounds of some hostess clubs, where he paid to sit and drink with women working there. The teen ordered whisky and Champagne. At one of the venues, he spent a couple of thousand dollars on a single bottle of wine. The teenager's dad pleaded with the Kyoto District Court, which ruled he would have to pay only a small portion of the tab. The hostess clubs were for adults only; therefore, the judge ruled, the bars were responsible. The judge also ruled American Express should have flagged the charges, so the company also was partly responsible. The dad walked away with an 800,000-yen bill," roughly $8,200.

Thought du jour

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To delight in the human body without shame, to enjoy it without adulteration, is no simple human prerogative. It comes only at the summit of a high culture.

Lewis Mumford, American historian and critic (1895-1990)

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