Your Body Is A Design Disaster
Your body hasn't evolved in the most efficient way. Lets take a look at some ways in which your body design could be improved.Science
The human body may be incredibly complex, but some believe that we were “created” in the image of a perfect being. If we’re so “perfect”, then why do we only have one set of adult teeth? Why do our backs hurt all the time? And what is the deal with male nipples?
It’s clear that, from our feet to our eyeballs, our bodies have been jerry-rigged together through the process of evolution. Thankfully, I’ve rounded up a truly eye-opening list that gets to grips with all the flaws and possible fixes of the anatomical anarchy!
There’s not a human alive who hasn’t accidentally bitten the inside of their mouth, and it’s one of the most frustrating injuries you can suffer! It takes forever to heal, you can’t really cover it, and it’s easily irritated by citrusy and salty foods. But if you accidentally re-bite it, then that’s a whole other world of pain!
So, why has evolution put our big, squidgy cheek muscles right next to some of the hardest and sharpest bones in the human body? Well, it’s all about our diets. The cheek muscle was originally designed to keep food in your mouth as you chew. Because humans have evolved to consume plant matter, which requires more thorough chewing, the cheeks are more spacious to keep food in place while it’s being ground up.
Pure carnivores, on the other hand, have much smaller cheeks, as they tend to rip off bite-sized chunks of meat and swallow them in one go. This is why you never see lions or tigers inadvertently bite the inside of their own mouths!
So, what’s the fix to the gnawing problem? Well, how about a little cheek protection? If humans develop slightly harder skin on the inside of their cheeks, it’ll be much harder to hurt through a bite, and you’d still get to chew away to your heart's content! Either that, or we all become carnivores, but I doubt the vegans will like that suggestion.
Have you ever been chowing down and chatting with your friends, when all of a sudden you start choking on a crumb that’s gone down the wrong way? Annoyingly, that eye-watering event is all down to some bad body design.
The problem is that your trachea and esophagus, also known as your windpipe and food pipe, both open into the same space. It is called the pharynx, which then leads down to your larynx, also known as the voice box.
To keep food out of the windpipe, a little flap called the epiglottis reflexively covers the opening of the pharynx whenever you swallow. Seems like a nifty design, however, sometimes the epiglottis just isn’t fast enough.
So, if you’re talking or laughing while eating, food may slip down and get lodged in your windpipe, causing you to choke! Sometimes it’s just a little uncomfortable, but in the US alone, around 5,000 people a year actually die from choking, and all because of the deadly design flaw!
So, what’s the fix to the suffocating problem? Moving the larynx seems like a start! If our larynx were linked exclusively to our nose, we could breathe and eat through two independent tubes. But there’s one small catch: we would need to give up talking.
But, if we took a cue from whales, whose larynx is also located in their blowholes, we could communicate through whale song! Either that or we could develop a brand new language based on sneezing.
A Real Brainstorm
We may think we’re smart, but our big brains are actually one really big mess! Like the rest of our bodies, our brains didn’t develop all at once. Over millions of years, it’s developed in stages, with new additions being built onto older parts.
In that sense, it’s simplest to think of it as a construction project centered around an old house. The very foundations of the house are like your primitive or reptilian brain, which controls basic survival processes like breathing, feeding, and fighting!
Built on top of that you have the main structure of the house, which is like our Limbic brain. That is where a lot of the living goes on, involving our emotional processes which allow us to do things like play, socialize, and learn.
And finally, we have the massive refurbishment keeping everything from falling apart, which is called the Neocortex. That is our rational brain, and it’s there that we process advanced concepts like logic, foresight, and hindsight.
But because it wasn’t all built together, it’s far from a perfect build. Some parts can clash, while others are still in a state of trial and error. The outcome is a series of mental processes that don’t make sense for humans to have, like depression, mania, and unreliable memories.
So, how do we fix our broken brains? Sadly, that one isn’t straightforward, because there’s no computer on earth like the human brain, at least not yet. The development of Artificial Intelligence is the closest technology we have to a perfect working mind. But what if it turned on humanity like SKYNET? Most of us watched enough Terminator films to know how that would end!
A Problematic Pelvis
Like the chaotic development of our brains wasn’t enough of a headache, their size also adds to another admittedly, more female problem: childbirth. The human birth canal runs through a woman’s pelvis. However, trying to push a baby’s big head through that very narrow space makes birth more dangerous and painful than in any other species!
That means that there’s a surprisingly high risk of babies getting stuck during labor. In fact, some estimates suggest it occurs in as much as 6% of births worldwide!
But if that’s the case, then why don’t women have bigger pelvises? That's because if they got any bigger than they already are, it’d interfere with their ability to walk upright, which is hardly an ideal trade-off!
Fortunately, cesarean operations are available, which is where surgery helps the mother deliver the baby through her abdomen instead of her pelvis. But even that is a supremely painful alternative, not to mention expensive! Without insurance in America, a hospital bill for natural childbirth is around $30,000, and you can up that to $50,000 if a mom opts for a c-section.
So, what workaround are women left with that won’t break the bank or their bodies? The logical solution would be artificial development, which means growing babies outside the womb in a special chamber. However, the idea of combining all the baby-making ingredients in a lab and allowing it to gestate sounds like something plucked straight out of a sci-fi novel.
Nevertheless, scientists have started looking into the solution, as it would mean mom could stay in one piece, while the baby’s head could grow as large as it needed to! Now that’s a solution that really delivers.
The Vitamin C Sacrifice
Vitamin C is essential for keeping your body healthy. It’s found in plenty of fruits and vegetables, but a deficiency of it in your diet can result in digestive disorders, slow wound healing, and even bone growth problems!
Seeing how important it is, you’d think there’d be a way for our bodies to make it, and there was. Along with guinea pigs, fruit bats, and some primates, humans are some of the mammals that unbelievably lost that essential ability in a high-stakes game of evolution.
But how did we lose out? Prior to relying on cooked and preserved food, human diets were heavy on raw plant matter, which is incredibly rich in Vitamin C. This meant that when humans were born missing the Vitamin-C synthesizing gene, it didn’t really affect them, so they were still able to thrive.
But it’s important to remember that, that change happened about 61 million years ago. But these days we’re more reliant on processed food than we are on good old fruit and veg! As a result, about 14% of adults in developed countries now suffer from the horrendous deficiency!
So, what’s the solution? How about we re-develop that vitamin C synthesizing gene? That way we won’t have to scour the product information of everything we eat, just to make sure our bodies don’t start falling apart!
A Loopy Laryngeal Nerve
One of the best examples of inefficient body design is, surprisingly, caught in your throat. Around your throat to be specific, in the form of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The string of nerve fibers plays a vital role in our ability to speak and swallow, as it feeds instructions from our brain to the muscles in our voice box.
But while the distance from the brain to the voice box is relatively short, that nerve takes an unnecessarily long route to the bottom of our throat and back! That chaotic detour starts during fetal development, where the nerve becomes entangled with a lump of tissue that eventually forms the aorta, a blood vessel close to the heart.
That means it’s dragged down and forced to loop around, instead of making that super short journey from brain to voice box and back. It may look inconvenient in humans, but we’re not the only ones that suffer from that deviant design, just take a look at the same nerve in a giraffe’s neck!
It’s up to 16.4 ft long, which is over three times the height of an average human! So, what would be the best way to re-route that nerve? The most obvious solution would start back in the womb.
Instead of forming at the same time, that irksome nerve should form after the main vein cluster of tissue has developed into the aorta. That’ll prevent it from getting dragged down, giving us an evolutionary shortcut!
Pollen should be harmless to humans, but to some 8% of American adults, that flower powder is the harbinger of doom! Allergies are hypersensitive reactions by the human body in response to alien substances it comes into contact with. Those can range from pollens and dusts, to food, insect bites, and even medicines.
Though they can result in mild reactions like sneezing and coughing, severe reactions like anaphylaxis can cause the body to become inflamed, so much so that it can be fatal! That’s an insanely unnecessary overreaction to substances that aren’t actually harmful to us.
So, why exactly can the human body think things like shellfish and bee stings are deadly threats? It all comes down to your antibodies. These are tiny proteins that each bind to a specific type of foreign substance and signal your immune system to get to work.
You’re born with some and exposed to others, meaning some people simply don’t have specific ones. That means when your body encounters a mysterious substance, it goes into overdrive and triggers the immune system to unintentionally attack the body!
Obviously, that is one huge human flaw, so what would be the best way to fix it? Well, if humans were all born equipped with every antibody they needed, no one would suffer at the hands of everyday substances ever again!
As grim as it sounds, pain is the body’s way of keeping you alive. It can but sharp or dull, ebbing or constant. But in any case, the worse it feels, the more your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Or at least, it should be! Toothache, for example, can be the worst!
The smallest hole or simple decay can cause excruciating pain whenever you eat or drink and can lead to some horribly sleepless nights. Usually, it’s caused by a build-up of pressure in the tooth caused by an infection or something equally nasty, but it’s hardly life-threatening!
On the other hand, a person can suffer for years from life-threatening cancer before any kind of pain kicks in. In fact, most people don’t even know they have cancer until it’s reached the often-fatal 3rd or 4th stages. That is because cancer tumors usually don’t have nerves of their own. Pain from those terrible tumors usually comes from the pressure they inflict on any nerves nearby!
What about Type 2 Diabetes, which occurs when your pancreas is unable to produce the amount of insulin you need to control your blood sugar? Over time, the strain it puts on your body can lead to some serious problems, and if undiagnosed it can be fatal!
That’s a huge problem, seeing as the American Diabetes Association estimates that 30 million people have type 2 diabetes and around 7 million are currently undiagnosed! But without any excruciating symptoms, just like cancer patients, how are you to know? It is insanely unfair, considering the potential severity of those illnesses!
So, what would be a fair fix to the impractical pain problem? Surely, it would make more sense for the human body to respond with excruciating pain only to life-threatening conditions, instead of things like dental problems. After all, losing a tooth isn’t as bad as losing your life!
Let’s get something straight, specifically our teeth! Typically, humans have three molars on each side of their upper and lower jaws. However, millions of years ago when we began getting smarter, our brains and consequently, our heads drastically increased in size.
That meant our jaws grew wider and shorter, leaving no room in our mouths for our furthest back molars. These days, we typically refer to them as ‘wisdom teeth’, although there’s nothing “wise” about the way they painfully impact our gums!
So, what’s the fix for the toothy trouble? The easiest solution would be to just get rid of them! In fact, many people already have and not through their dentist. Around 20 to 25% of the human population is born with just 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and an incredible 35% are born with none at all! That quick fix is guaranteed to save the human body a lot of unnecessary pain, as well as dental bills.
Unfortunately, wisdom teeth aren’t the only mouth problems humans have. And that’s because you’re born with just two sets of teeth. If your adult teeth get knocked out, or succumb to decay, you can’t grow them back. That seems like a bit of an evolutionary short straw, especially when you consider other mammals like elephants and kangaroos can regrow their teeth!
So, why have humans been left out? It all stems back to the mammalian evolution, around 320 million years ago. That is when our biology traded off endless sets of teeth that were the same shape and size, for sets of teeth with different purposes. In this regard, canines were used for tearing meat, while molars were designed to grind down plant matter.
However, the complexity of their omnivorous design meant constantly regrowing them could have led to problems, so it was easier to just have one set of perfectly aligned adult teeth! But seeing as America spent over $135 billion on dental care in 2018 alone, maintaining our only set of teeth is an insanely expensive essential!
So, how could we bridge the dental disaster? How about we take after the previously mentioned kangaroos? When the teeth of those springy marsupials are worn down, they grow a new set at the back which slowly migrate forward and replace them! Though it sounds like an ingenious solution, turning the human mouth into a conveyor belt of teeth is a terrifyingly toothy idea!
Regardless of body shape or size, almost everyone has nipples. But if their primary purpose is to breastfeed babies, why on earth do male nipples exist? Aside from being pierced, they really don’t do anything. And in rare cases, the small amount of tissue behind the nipple can be affected by breast cancer!
So, if they serve no purpose and are potentially dangerous, why do men have those nonsensical nipples? Put simply, men have nipples because they develop in the womb before embryos become distinctly male or female. By the time the Y chromosome kicks in to distinguish a baby as a male, the nipples are already secured in place.
If that’s the case, what’s the fix? The most obvious solution would be to have all reproductive features like nipples form after X or Y chromosomes kick in in utero. That would leave men smooth-chested and completely free from bosom burdens!
Natural Blind Spot
Even if you have 20/20 vision, you’re probably not seeing the whole picture. That’s because humans are born with a natural blind spot. Human retinas are made up of photoreceptor cells, which detect light and pass information to our brains via our optic fibers.
However, thanks to an age-old adaptation from our ancestors, those cells face backward in our eye, meaning light must travel through our optic fiber before it reaches our photoreceptor.
Fortunately, the optic fiber is transparent, but it becomes a problem when all those fibers converge at a point called the optic nerve. Because the nerve runs from the eye to the brain, there’s no room for any photoreceptors behind it, which creates a blind spot!
Even though our brain compensates for that by filling in the blank using the visual field of our other eye, it’s still a design that’s fundamentally backward!
So, how could we fix that less-than-eye-deal feature? We should follow in the footsteps (or "tentacle steps") of the cephalopods! Those little suckers, like squid and octopus, have eyes very similar to ours, but their photoreceptors face forward. That means no wacky design and no blind spot!
The human spine is a complete mess, so much so that it’s a wonder that we can even walk! When our apish ancestors walked on all fours at least 3-6 million years ago, their spines were arched like a bow. That was to withstand the weight of all their organs suspended below. But then they started to walk upright, saving precious energy spent foraging for food while freeing up their hands to use tools!
However, that brilliant leap to bipedalism meant our spines had to curve back so that all our organs didn’t extend too far forward, throwing us off balance. But then, to support the head, the upper spine had to curve in the opposite direction! That s-shaped change may have helped us walk, but it put a huge amount of pressure on our lower vertebrae.
As a result, some medical experts even estimate that up to 80% of the population will suffer from back problems during their lifetime!
So, what would be the most logical fix to the back-breaking problem? Well, how about we go back to the arch? It would take out the need for those problematic curves, returning us to a simple, strong, and pain-free frame.
The only catch is that we’d need to get back on all fours. Moving around like that might pose a few problems at first, not to mention you’d look like you’d lost your marbles! If that’s all it took to stop your spine from feeling like it was on fire, would you revert to a four-legged lifestyle?
26 Bones In The Foot
How many bones do you think make up the human foot? It can’t be too many, right? After all, the largest part of it doesn’t really move. Taking our toes and ankles into account, how many would you guess? 12? 15? Try 26 on for size!
That insane skeletal structure makes the human foot one of the most overcomplicated parts of the body, but why exactly was it made that way? Back in our ape days, those bones provided extra dexterity to grab branches in the treetops, stopping us from falling to our deaths!
But since we’ve become bipedal, our feet have become flatter and more stable in order to support our entire body weight. Our big toes, for example, aren’t super flexible anymore, and the arch of the foot has developed to work as a kind of shock absorber.
However, that adapted structure has left our feet with plenty of room to twist inwards and outwards in ways it can’t support. That leaves us with painfully twisted ankles, terrible tendonitis, and excruciating shin splints! So, what would a more solid design look like?
Probably something like an ostrich foot, which only has 9 bones! That flightless bird gets around by running and walking just like us, but its ankle and lower leg bones are fused into one solid structure that goes all the way up!
That sturdy, elongated design reduces the risk of injury while allowing them to reach staggering speeds of up to 43 mph! Clearly, that is the foot design humans need, even if it does look a little bit backward!
Them No-Good Knees
The knee is arguably the most complex joint in the human body. It’s what medical experts call a four-bar linkage, meaning the ligaments on the outside and inside of the knee work together to bend the joint at its hinge. But despite being incredibly complex, it’s not all that flexible.
Even with all those ligaments, the knee can only move in two directions: forward, and backward. It’s an optimal design for tasks like running and walking, but human sports have moved beyond that. In many games and exercises, we’re forced to weave, twist, and turn our legs in ways that defy evolution.
That means a misplaced step or a knock to the side of the knee can cause devastating injuries, like torn ACL and MCL ligaments, which can require surgery to repair. That’s why it’s illegal to clip or hit an opponent’s knee from the side in every major sport!
Except for rugby, but considering it’s a game that starts by literally smashing the players' heads together, knee injuries probably aren't their biggest concern! So, for the sake of sports, how could we fix those weak knees?
If it’s more flexibility we need, why don’t we take a lesson from our hips? Unlike our knees, our hips work on a ball and socket joint, giving them a much wider range of motion. So, let’s replace the hinged knee joint with a ball and socket. That way, we could say goodbye to pesky knee injuries, and hello to a whole new, nightmare-inducing range of lower-leg motion.
I hope you were amazed at the design flaws of our bodies and ways to fix them! Thanks for reading.