Humans Aren’t That Special and Other Facts about Humans
This time, we’re looking at just a few facts about humans and the human experience. Overall, the human body is an incredible biological system. As people often like to note, we have the most highly developed brain. However, you may not know it the way some people act.
Organized into nine major organ systems that work together with tissues, a healthy person’s body runs in mysterious and astonishing complexity. However, some facts about humans and our bodies remain uncommon knowledge or quite strange. We’ll look at just a few examples.
Facts about Humans: We’re Animals
As grandiose as people tend to be, humans are also animals made of the same matter as other animals. As such, we’re part of the food chain and connected with all other living things. Notably, we share our DNA with all other organisms that ever existed.
Today, our species is doing more to upset the delicate food chain than any other. One way to turn this around is by understanding that we can’t live without nature and diverse natural wildlife and plants. Remember, we’re truly made of the same stuff and interdependent.
One way that humans are unique is we walk bipedally, mostly on two legs. Other than that and our well-developed brain, we’re not particularly special. Even the fact that we have non-visible bioluminescence isn’t special. Recently, we learned that a platypus can glow under a blacklight.
In fact, scientists are discovering that other animals can do things that we long thought were unique to people. For example, a species of fish was recently found domesticating another species.
For a long time, we thought humans were “all that” since we have things like speech, language, consciousness, tool use, art, music, material culture, commerce, agriculture, and non‑reproductive sex. However, as we look at other species more, we learn they can be capable of many of these traits. For instance, as many as 1% of all animals use tools.
Even your neighborhood crows can use tools.
Humans Excel at Long-Winded Stories
According to the author and geneticist Adam Rutherford, humans are unique in this way:
“What humans uniquely do is that we accumulate culture and build on it. Many animals learn, but only we teach,” wrote Rutherford.
If that’s true, humans can teach each other that preserving wild nature is vital to our existence. Fortunately, leaders like Sir David Attenborough and Dame Jane Goodall are doing just that.
Therefore, humans are particularly great at telling long-winded stories. However, nobody said they had to be true –hence our current political climate.
Humans Aren’t the Top of the Totem Pole
In 2013, a group of French researchers used food supply data to determine how humans rank in the food chain. The results could be “deflating” if you have long believed we’re at the top of nature’s totem pole.
To rank as an apex predator, one would have to consume only the meat of other predators. Therefore, since humans are omnivores, eating many plants and animals, our ranking is much lower than one might think:
“On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the score of a primary producer (a plant) and 5 being a pure apex predator (a animal that only eats meat and has few or no predators of its own, like a tiger, crocodile or boa constrictor), they found that based on diet, humans score a 2.21—roughly equal to an anchovy or pig. Their findings confirm common sense: We’re omnivores, eating a mix of plants and animals, rather than top-level predators that only consume meat.”
That’s right. Humans’ place on the food chain is next to anchovies, a slender silvery fish and sometimes-pizza topping, and pigs. It’s one of those facts about humans most would probably like to ignore.
Below, see a list of the top ten animals in the food chain from ViralB:
We’re All Airheads
The next time you hear someone refer to another as an “airhead,” consider the following facts about humans:
Amazingly, each person requires trillions of cells grouped into 200 different types. However, those cells are made up of many more atoms. One estimate is that every adult has around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms.
Thus, we need at least seven octillion atoms, but the space between them is vast. For instance, the nucleus inside each atom is surrounded by so much space; it’s comparable to a fly inside a cathedral. Thus, the surrounding atoms never touch one another.
Without all that space, we would fit into a cube less than 1/500th of a centimeter on each side! In that case, we would be similar to neutron stars, so compressed that a teaspoon of one can weigh a billion tons. For comparison, that would be like squeezing the Sun into the space of a small city.
Although there is lots of space, scientists are learning more about what’s inside that area. In the same way, they’re just beginning to learn about what’s out there deep in outer space. Now, we know it’s not as dark out there as we previously thought, although we don’t know why.
See more about atoms and the not-so-empty space between them from Veritasium:
People Never Truly Touch Anything
Fortunately, atoms in our bodies never touch each other. However, ghostly and mysterious particles called dark matter might regularly pass through our bodies. Dark matter could make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe. Annually, scientists believe dark matter may collide with each person’s body 100,000 times.
Nevertheless, our atoms remain quite repulsed by each other. Like two opposing magnets, they push away from their neighbors. Strangely, even when you touch an object, you cannot touch the atoms inside. Thus, a tiny space is always there between your body and your smartphone or any other object.
Remember, whenever you hug your loved ones, you’re not truly touching them, at least not in the atomic sense. Weird, huh?
Astoundingly, the electromagnetic force between atoms is a billion billion billion billion times stronger than gravity. Consequently, even a very small weak magnet can counter the gravitational force of the planet Earth.
Now, for some strange facts about the human body, see this fascinating video from Bright Side: