The present article illustrates that the specific articulatory and aerodynamic requirements for voiced but not voiceless alveolar or dental stops can cause tongue tip retraction and tongue mid lowering and thus retroflexion of front coronals. This retroflexion is shown to have occurred diachronically in the three typologically unrelated languages Dhao (Malayo-Polynesian), Thulung (Sino-Tibetan), and Afar (East-Cushitic). In addition to the diachronic cases, we provide synchronic data for retroflexion from an articulatory study with four speakers of German, a language usually described as having alveolar stops. With these combined data we supply evidence that voiced retroflex stops (as the only retroflex segments in a language) did not necessarily emerge from implosives, as argued by Haudricourt (1950), Greenberg (1970), Bhat (1973), and Ohala (1983). Instead, we propose that the voiced front coronal plosive /d/ is generally articulated in a way that favours retroflexion, that is, with a smaller and more retracted place of articulation and a lower tongue and jaw position than /t/.