Piggies in the Petroglyphs

Piggies in the Petroglyphs

Cooper Berry, Reporter

Over 2,000 years ago, the first carving was made into a rock face now known as Newspaper Rock in Utah. Etchings depicting animals, people, and past events litter a 200 square foot area. Out of all this, the most intriguing part to scientists was not the various other symbols. Instead, it was the feet.

On Newspaper Rock, carvings of feet are scattered throughout the surface. Many have the usual look, but some showcase polydactyly, a condition causing extra toes and fingers. At first, you would either see it as a mistake or miss the extra digits entirely. However, these illustrations are based on reality.

A team of anthropologists found that, among a sample size of 96 skeletons, 3.1% had an extra pinkie toe on the right foot. This is huge compared to modern day rates of polydactyly in Native Americans, which is .2%.

These 650+ etchings give us a view into the life and culture of peoples of North America pre-colonization. Since polydactyly is inheritable, with around 35% of people with polydactyly having a relative sharing the same condition, anthropologists are looking into using it to identify family lineages.