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evolution

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Y'all know that one Hannah Montana song? “Everybody makes mistakes! Everybody has those days!" That's the song I sing to myself every time I accidentally burn myself while making ramen. It comforts me to know, however, that there are a lot of worse mistakes out there than some spilled ramen. Who knew?

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The body is an amazing thing, capable of extraordinary possibilities. We often tend to ignore our bodies, which is a ludicrous thing to do. The more we know about our bodies, the longer we can keep them functioning at 100%. Everything is connected, so everything functions as a whole to keep us breathing and strong. So let's figure out the things that we don't know that we most definitely should.

Redditor u/alwaysclimbing5 wanted to learn a few things about anatomy by asking.... What's a cool fact about the human body that a lot of people don't know?

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matuska/Pixabay

Over time we often discover new uses for everyday items, and the way we use things and words change.

Sometimes, it's the products themselves that change. Watches used to only tell us the time; now they can track your steps and heart rate, order you a pizza, and turn your lights on and off in your house.

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Cagan Hakki Sekercioglu/Getty Images

Despite going completely extinct, a flightless bird known as a white-throated rail keeps evolving back into existence.

Through a process researchers call "iterative evolution" the sub-species keeps re-emerging.

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Twitter: @DorsaAmir

A vestigial structure is a genetically determined attribute that, through the evolutionary process, has lost some or all of its original function. Perhaps the most famous example is the appendix, which in humans has lost most of its ancestral use.

Evolutionary anthropologist Dorsa Amir started a Twitter thread explaining the phenomena. Amir is a postdoctoral researcher with Boston College.

The Twitter thread begins with a basic explanation of the structures.

It seems she just wants to watch the world learn.



The reason we know the Palmaris longus was used for getting around trees is because we share a common ancestor with primates. For example, the orangutan still uses that muscle and it is well defined. While some of our closest relatives, such as the gorilla or chimpanzee, do not employ the muscle, it still shows up in similar rates as on us.



Darwin's Tubercle was originally named the Woolnerian Tip, named for Thomas Woolner who depicted it in one of his sculptures. While the tubercle is possibly a vestigial structure, it's also possibly formed by environmental factors.



The tailbone is also known as the coccyx, which is just fun to say. There are some who claim we still need the tailbone, evidenced by the various bits of musculature attached to it. However, most coccygectomy studies show it produces little to no disadvantages for someone without one.



In birds and lizards, this third eyelid covers the eye for protection. While it doesn't perform this function in humans, the plica semilunaris is not without use. During eye movement, it helps us maintain tear drainage.



You've likely also encountered goose bumps in connection with hearing a really good song. This is because music can react in the brain similar to tangible ingestions like food or even psychoactive drugs. The dopamine release changes your breathing, temperature and heart rate, activating the goose bump response.



The grasp reflex is very strong in infants. Imaging has actually shown they can perform the action in utero. Nowadays, the grip is still strong, but not reliable. They may let go without warning. (Please do not try and pick up your child this way.)



After the thread, Amir took questions from the class.





Amir is a researcher for Boston College, studying human behavior. She and other researchers recently published a paper about the impact of your childhood socioeconomic status on your adult preferences.