Bizzare Family That Walks on All Fours Leaves Scientists Dumbfounded

Researchers have been observing a family in Turkey, the Ulas family, for decades. They look like they are into cosplay, heading to a convention of furries.

Many of the Ulas family walk on “all fours.”

At first, scientists wondered whether the peculiarity that six out of the eighteen children in the family exhibited indicated a possible reversal of evolution. But now scientists say physiotherapy and assistive devices are helping the 18-child family—born to Resit and Hatice Ulas—learn to walk upright.

Nicholas Humphrey, a professor of evolutionary psychology, spearheaded the investigation into this occurrence and openly disagreed with the idea that the Ulas family had “devolved.” Neurological scans that showed a discernible reduction in the cerebellum’s central region did not provide definitive answers. It has been observed that people whose cerebellums are weak or nonexistent may nonetheless walk upright.

Despite thorough investigations, the scientific community remains baffled, unable to determine the exact source of the family’s distinctive walking preference. When Humphrey returned to the Ulas family after many years, he saw a remarkable new development: the Ulas youngsters were learning to walk upright with the help of physiotherapy and supported hardware.

A documentary dubbed the Ulas family “the missing link between man and ape,” research out of Turkey proposed the possibility of “devolution”—the reversal of three million years of evolution—about this family. But in the BBC program, Humphrey attacked that hypothesis, describing it as scientifically irresponsible and deeply insulting.

Before two British researchers saw an unpublished article by a Turkish professor in 2005, the quadrupedal gait of the Ulas family had never been documented in healthy adult humans. They attribute it to factors related to development and genes. The afflicted siblings’ parents are second cousins, and they all have cerebellar ataxia, a congenital disability that makes it hard for them to balance on one leg.

The researchers contend that environmental factors account for a significant portion of their disease.