The face on the left is a composite of eight women with "unusually small feet." The face on the right is a composite of "eight women with unusually large feet."
The morphs were created by evolutionary psychologists Jeremy Atkinson and Michelle Rowe at the University at Albany, New York. Atkinson called them the "most strikingly different morphs I've ever seen."
These morphs were then rated for attractiveness by 77 heterosexual male students. The men were three-and-a-half times as likely to pick the short-footed morph as more attractive, and almost 10 times as likely to say it was more feminine, Atkinson and Rowe found.New Scientist: Why men are attracted to women with small feet
Atkinson thinks men find these features attractive because they serve as markers of a healthy childhood. Biologists know that stress and poor nutrition during foetal development and puberty can affect sex hormone levels and cause earlier puberty.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects