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meet the family that walk on all fours

The nature and reason of the family’s walking has sparked debate, with some speculating that it could be a genetic throwback to pre-bipedal hominid movement in the form of the Uner Tan syndrome. Nicholas Humphrey, who accompanied the documentary makers, came to the conclusion that it was owing to an unusual combination of genetic and developmental factors. To begin with, their mother recalls that all 19 of her children began walking with a bear-crawl (i.e. on their feet rather than their knees). Second, they have a non-progressive congenital cerebellar ataxia caused by an inherited recessive genetic mutation that affects the balance that children utilize to learn to walk bipedally. Nicholas Humphrey receives a call from John Skoyles in June 2005, informing him that he has seen an unpublished work by Turkish Professor Uner Tan on familial hand dominance. Two British scientists and Tan pay a visit to the family and their father, Resit, in the film. The family has 19 children, 12 of whom are typical and seven who are handicapped, one of whom died. Gülin is initially introduced in the commentary, who “staggers as if inebriated” but walks on two feet. The four sisters Safiye, Hacer, Senem, and Emine, as well as their brother Hüseyin, are then introduced as the affected hand-walking individuals. In stark contrast to these sorrowful pictures, we observe a family enjoying themselves at a sandy beach about one hour away.

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