On All Fours


The Ulas Family of southern Turkey are a clan of nineteen, five of whom have never learned to walk on two feet. Instead, they walk with a quadruple gait, using their feet and the palms of their hands. For decades, the Ulas lived a secluded life, treated as outcasts and mocked by the surrounding villages. But after a research paper by Turkish professor Uner Tan, the family shot to fame amongst the scientific community, who descended upon them before proposing various explanations for their behaviour, not all of them politically correct. Some scientists claim that they are the "missing link" in human evolution. Others say that the family is missing the gene linked to bipedalism. The only thing they seem to agree on is that the family is not a hoax, as previously suspected.

With the cruel glare of public scrutiny and scientific invasion, however, has come a ray of hope in the form of physiotherapy, a $30 steel walker to help them stand up, and the knowledge that they might not be alone. For other stories of similar families have suddenly begun to surface.

Image: A still from the BBC documentary 'The Family That Walks On All Fours'.