The Top 10 Strangest Things You Didn’t Know About the Human Body

May 18, 2011
The human body is a mysterious and marvelous thing. While science has done a great job of explaining how the body works, it has also discovered some strange facts as well.

10. Your Feet are Really Boney

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The average adult skeleton has a total of 208 bones ( we are actually born with around 270 bones, however with age some bones fuse together). Each foot contains 26 bones, along with 33 joints and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

The name of these 26 bones are as follows: calcaneus (heel bone), talus, cuboid bone, navicular bone lateral cuneiform bone, intermediate cuneiform, medial cuneiform bone, five metatarsal bone, five proximal phalanges, four intermediate phalanges and five distal phalanges. Sexy names, hug? Add the number of bones in each foot together and you get a grand total of 52 bones. Conduct some basic math and, hey presto, exactly 25% of the human body’s bones are located in the feet.

9. Overeating Reduces Hearing

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If you’re heading out to a concert, be careful not to overeat because if you do it’ll affect your hearing. Eating too much can have short term and long term effects on your hearing.

Hearing loss in old age is very common, however according to a 2008 study 50 percent of age-related hearing impairment is avoidable. A study conducted by Erik Fransen at the University of Antwerp found that overeating reduces hearing. This is because over consumption leads to obesity and cardiovascular disease which decreases blood circulation.

According to Fransen, “Hair cells die when they do not get enough oxygen and when toxic free radicals do not get transported away fast enough.” And guess what gives us the ability to hear? Thousands of tiny hairs. So protect your hearing and lay off the Twinkies.

8. Brain Power

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The human brain is a mightily powerful organ. It requires 20 percent of the oxygen and calories a human consumes, yet it only makes up two percent of the body’s total weight. The brain is 80 percent water, and to operate only needs 10 watts of energy.

The strangest aspect of the brain is its workload. You’d think the brain would be most active when we’re awake. Well it’s not. The brain is actually working the hardest when we sleep. According to scientists, the brain is actually more active at night during REM sleep. This is the part of the sleep cycle where we dream. This might help explain why people with higher I.Q. have more dreams. Now, don’t start thinking you’re stupid if you don’t remember all of your dreams. Most dreams only last two to four seconds, which is way too short to register or even remember

7. The Lungs are Big

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The lungs may not seem that big in relation to other parts of the human body, but they sure do contain an abundance of surface area. The surface area of the lung is actually equivalent to that of a tennis court. Far out! The reason for the mass of surface area is so the body can efficiently and quickly oxygenate the blood. The large surface area comes from thousands of branching bronchi and tiny, grape-like alveoli that are filled with microscopic capillaries. These are what draw out the oxygen and pump it through your body. Booyah.

6. Why Your Eyes Close When You Sneeze

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The human sneeze is very powerful, producing velocities of up to 650 miles per hour. That’s so strong it’s higher than a category 5 hurricanes. Yikes. But this doesn’t explain why our eyes close when we sneeze (It’s not the velocity of the sneeze that forces the eyes shut). Rather, the reason the eye close during a sneeze is because the muscles used to create the sneeze are also connected to face muscles that control your eyes. The sneeze causes a reflex of the muscles in the face that close your eyes. Scientists are not certain why this occurs, but they theorize the eyes close to protect them “from microorganisms and particles from our sneezes.”

5. Your Finger Nails Grow at Different Rates

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Are our bodies giving us the bird? Maybe, as the fastest growing nail on the human body is on the middle finger. Nails grow at the rate of 0.0004 of an inch daily (or about an inch every 250 days) and are made from keratin, which is the exact same protein that hair is made from.

Nail growth also differs on both hands. If you are right handed, your nails on your right hand will grow faster than the nails on your left hand and vice versa. On the flip side, the slowest growing nail is the thumbnail.

4. You Really Are Dying Every Day

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Each minute a staggering 300 million cells in your body die. I know, it’s alarming! Now, because you rush off to the doctor or start planning your funeral, you need to understand that this is just part of the body’s replenishing cycle. Let’s look at this with some perspective. While 300 million sounds like a lot, it’s only about 0.0001% of the cells in your body. While there might be a bunch of cells dying off daily, a whole new batch is being born. Some 10 – 50 trillion cells are created everyday, replacing those that went on to greener pastures.

3. Your Blood Travels Around the Planet More than Twice Every Day

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Every single day the blood in the human body clocks up a ton of frequent flier miles. It travels a whopping 60,000 miles (or 96,540 km for our metric friends) per day on its journey through the body. That’d be like traveling around the earth more than twice every single day. Whoa, that’s a lot of miles. And you thought your commute to work was long.

2. Men Have A Uterus

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Yes, men are born with a uterus. Now, don’t freak out or get all Junior on us and try to impregnate yourself you just yet. The male uterus is actually useless. This body part, known as the prostatic utricle or vagina masculine, is located at the base of the prostrate near the ejaculatory ducts. It serves absolutely no purpose and is something left over from conception. Similarly, a woman’s uterus contain a bunch of dead end tubes that play no function in the female body, but would become the ducts in a male that carry semen from the testicles.

1. The Brain Doesn’t Feel Pain

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The brain may register the pain you’re feeling, but it itself cannot feel any pain. This is because it contains no pain receptor. Zip, zilch, zero. In fact, the absence of such sensors allows scientist to attached electrodes directly to the brain of animals for scientific research with out causing any discomfort.

Now you might say, “Hang on a minute, my hangover for the weekend begs to differ.” Well, the pain from a headache is caused by the skin and bones around head which, unlike the brain, can feel pain.