Don’t get me wrong, the human body is amazing. Endlessly, staggeringly, wonderfully amazing. Here’s the deal – evolution favors functionality, not perfection. Read on for five times this couldn’t be more evident.
Our “useful” spines
Throw back to a few million years ago; our ancient ancestors were getting about on all fours with a magnificent bow-shaped spine perfectly shaped and strong enough to support all the precious organs being cradled underneath.
Then fast forward to when then-humans made the big switch to a bi-pedal life.
Scientists have theorized that this was great for a number of reasons, including freeing up our hands to allow us to use tools, putting our eyes in a more elevated position and to reduce the amount of skin exposed to the unrelenting tropical sun.
But not so much for that super essential part of our skeleton.
In becoming upright, the spine had to bend in an s-shape to allow for movement while simultaneously balancing the weighty cranium, causing pressure where there previously was none… and future generations to complain about back ache.
Knackered Knees & Hips.
Apart from the pressure on our spines, becoming bipedal also meant instead of being spread through four limbs, our entire body weight was now being shared by just our legs.
That is, our knees, hips and ankles. They’re just not built for taking our full weight.
This one is probably the first thing that springs to mind when discussing the human body being less than ideal in design.
I can’t talk from personal experience, but I’ve heard giving birth can be pretty uncomfortable.
And the fact we have tiny narrow pelvises is not helping our plight for a less painful experience, nor is the fact we’re baring offspring with bigger brains
But hey, that’s natural selection baby!
Back in the days where our diet consisted of chewy fibrous plants, having three sets of molars was the dream.
However, our modern day diet consisting of more soft processed foods means two sets will do us just fine.
Turns out those last sets of molars didn’t get the memo and still like to make an appearance in adolescence.
Since our brains became bigger, our jaws became smaller to make space.
For a lot of us, the only place for these teeth who still insist on turning up to the jaw party is to impact into the gums, often requiring a painful extraction, a lot of ibuprofen and a few weeks of eating nothing but soup and ice cream.
A Multi-tasking Throat
Choking is one of the most common causes of death, so you’d think we’d stop putting things in our mouths just asking to get caught in our windpipes right?
Oh yeah, because if we didn’t, we’d starve.
One unintuitive design feature is that our throats are involved in both digestion and respiration, and also house our voice boxes for good measure.
There are alternatives in the animal kingdom, for example the sea cucumber, which feeds through its anus, but I can’t imagine most humans would find that a more favorable option!