This tag is for questions about the general biological features of human beings (as opposed to the biology of non-humans).

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35
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3answers
4k views

How could humans have interbred with Neanderthals if we're a different species?

To be clear, I'm not doubting that homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis did interbreed: of that much I'm convinced. Within the past few years I've seen an upcropping of pop-sci articles discussing ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?

Layman here. So I have never really quite understood this facet of human evolution, (or any other for that matter), in that, I understand the evolutionary process, but I get lost on the 'border' cases....
34
votes
1answer
5k views

What causes morning wood?

Sometimes men wake up with an erection in the morning. Why does this happen?
33
votes
6answers
1k views

Why do we age? or Do we have a theory of senescence?

There seem to be a number of ideas about why we age. Hypotheses include the gradual accumulation of cell metabolic products affecting organism function and the reduction of telomere length during cell ...
24
votes
4answers
16k views

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Somewhere I have read we share more than 99% of our genes with every other other person and 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. What does this mean? Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

Why does hair grow after trimming but remains at a constant length after a while?

Some hair especially body hair regrows after trimming but stops growing after a while. What is the mechanism behind control of hair growth and how is the length limit determined?
17
votes
3answers
5k views

What causes a 'stuffy' or 'runny' nose when you have a cold?

When humans get the common cold, a common symptom is a stuffy or runny nose. Is that the body's immune response or is that the virus's doing?
28
votes
3answers
535 views

Is telomere length a reliable measure of health/lifespan?

Several companies are commercializing tests for telomere length such as this one here. I understand the basic mechanism for why telomeres shorten during DNA replication, but how good is the evidence ...
56
votes
4answers
49k views

Death because of distilled water consumption

One of my friends said that I would die if I drank distilled water (we were using it in a chemistry experiment) I gave it a go and surprisingly did not die. I did a bit of Googling and found this ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored?

Background I am a computer programmer who is fascinated by artificial intelligence and artificial neural networks, and I am becoming more curious about how biological neural networks work. Context &...
9
votes
2answers
478 views

Why do we have more male infant born?

For every 104 male babies,we have 100 female babies and there is a Statistics which is more reliable (we have 997 female infant born per 1000 male infant born). what's the reason? why do we have male ...
13
votes
3answers
477 views

How does a person get AIDS?

I am inquisitive to know about how a person contracts AIDS. Among the common masses it's still the belief that having sex with multiple partners causes the disease but that is not the case when read ...
4
votes
1answer
309 views

How significant is the genetic component of homosexual behaviour?

From some basic googling, I found that nobody has ever proven that people are born gay and that environment plays a great part in homosexuality. I wish to know if there is a genetic component to ...
7
votes
1answer
180 views

How do tea, coffee, and beer dehydrate you?

For the long time I am trying to find out if the following is truth: They say that some beverages dehydrates. I heard that about tea (sometimes green, sometimes black, sometimes both), coffee, beer ...
183
votes
3answers
96k views

Why do I only breathe out of one nostril?

I was just sitting with my hand next to my nose and I realized that air was only coming out of the right nostril. Why is that? I would think I would use both, it seems much more efficient. Have I ...
25
votes
1answer
937 views

Extremely rare occurence of Heart cancer?

The occurrence of Heart cancer (similar, but not the same as Rhabdomyosarcoma) is extremely rare, about 1 per year according to MayoClinic. The reason for this rarity is explained to be the post-...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

If fever is a natural immune defense, why do people take drugs to lower it?

If fever is a natural defense against pathogens, why do sick people take NSAIDs to reduce the fever?
16
votes
4answers
4k views

Height and natural selection in humans?

I watched the documentary "Evolve" recently and in the segment on "size" Scott V. Edwards, Harvard evolutionary biologist mentioned the idea that humans might evolve to be 7' tall in 'hundreds of ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does hair turn grey or white, and why does it happen later for some?

The question is pretty simple: what is happening molecularly when hair turns grey or white? I would imagine that it is due to the lack of a particular compound. I'm also interested in why some people'...
8
votes
1answer
4k views

Can you consider a human as alive, or is it the cells on the body that are alive?

Sorry if this question seems strange, but in the recent time I have been interested in the question of what life is and how you can define life. My question: How long can individual cells live on a ...
7
votes
1answer
501 views

What causes Paresthesia (Pins and Needles) at a cellular level?

I've looked it up in plenty of places like the Wikipedia page and such, and it is clear that the most common cause of Paresthesia is either a fair amount of pressure on a specific patch of skin ...
31
votes
2answers
6k views

What actually happens when my leg 'falls asleep'?

Most people have experienced the temporary loss of feeling and tingling in their leg resulting from sitting in an abnormal position for a short while. Usually you get a loss of feeling in your leg ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

How is temperature sensed?

Can anyone summarize the mechanism by which when an object of a given temperature is placed in contact with, say, the skin on a human fingertip, the average speed of the particles of the object is ...
4
votes
1answer
143 views

Why do we sleep?

While we do know that the human body is regulated by a circadian clock that keeps humans on a sleep/wake cycle, we don’t really know why. Sleep is the time when our bodies repair tissues and perform ...
9
votes
3answers
751 views

What causes feeling of feet falling asleep to be delayed?

This answer explains the sensation of extremities "falling asleep" as a result of sustained pressure on a nerve. The answer links to an external web page that says that the feeling "quickly goes away ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

What effect does the Barr body have, in relation to female Turner syndrome?

Why do persons with Turner syndrome have developmental abnormalities, when normal XX-females do not, even though they only have 1 active X chromosome? From what I know, one X-chromosome is ...
12
votes
4answers
15k views

What nutrients can humans absorb in the mouth?

For instance, I realise being able to absorb simple sugars in the mouth is pivotal in the rapid action of oral glucose gel. Thus I was wondering what nutrients in general can be absorbed directly ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?

In some cases two species can hybridize. For example, Tigers and lions can hybridize to produce "Ligers". Would it also be possible for humans and chimpanzees (or any other species) to hybridize ? ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

At what saltiness will water simply pass through us?

If water has a low salt content, it hydrates us. When water has too high salt concentration, like sea water, it drains water out of us instead when we drink it. At what salt concentration would water ...
54
votes
3answers
12k views

How does the brain's energy consumption depend on mental activity?

What is the impact of mental activity on the energy consumption of the human brain? I am most interested in intellectually demanding tasks (e.g., chess matches, solving a puzzle, taking a difficult ...
34
votes
4answers
22k views

Is there any advantage to one blood type over another?

All humans can be grouped into ABO and Rh+/- blood groups (at a minimum). Is there any advantage at all to one group or the other? This article hints that there are some pathogens that display a ...
16
votes
3answers
11k views

Supercomputer Vs Human Brain

With supercomputers doing calculation in petaflops ($10^{15}$ Calculations per Second), have we crossed the speed of Human Brain?
35
votes
1answer
33k views

How does laughing gas (N₂O) work?

Laughing gas (N2O), well, makes people laugh. How does just a gas make us do that, there has to be some hormones at work... So, I wanted to know how this works? What is the mechanism?
18
votes
2answers
16k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

I have heard that information is sent between the brain and peripheral nerves via electrical pulses or signals, but I don't understand how they create them in the first place.
23
votes
5answers
14k views

Why do the two hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body?

Why does the left hemisphere control the right and the right hemisphere control the left? I googled it but didn't find a good answer regarding this. Could someone explain? Does this adaptation help ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Are human bodies programmed to die?

Following from this question: What is the evolutionary advantage of death?: Is there any evidence that human bodies have systemic self-destruction built into their developmental program? I'm not ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

If body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), why are most people more comfortable at around 21°C (70°F)?

It may be different for other people, but for me, anything above 32°C (90°F) is very uncomfortable, and my body is inclined to seek cooler temperatures. But I would think that at 32°C, the body would ...
17
votes
3answers
16k views

Why do people have antibodies against other blood types?

The ABO blood type divides each blood type according to whether they have the "A" and "B" antigen(s) (AB has both, O has none). People also have antibodies against the antigens they don't have (AB has ...
15
votes
4answers
53k views

What is the armpit hair for?

Modern human beings, especially women, cut their armpit hair. It seems to me the armpit hair is trivial/useless. Shortly speaking, what is the armpit hair for?
13
votes
2answers
6k views

Why does strenous exercise cause vision of “lights”?

I had a hard climb a week ago. I got so tired then any time I closed my eyes I saw these lights inside my head. I see these lights almost every time that I run fast or some thing like that. What are ...
19
votes
2answers
48k views

How many human cells are there in our body, on average?

How many human cells are there in our body, on average? Wikipedia says 1013: Bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells, and there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in ...
19
votes
3answers
7k views

Are humans the only animal that requires “clean water”?

I've seen a number of animals - dogs, cats, squirrels, ducks and geese, etc drink from puddles, some of them were muddy, others had green flora growing under water. Same goes for lakes and rivers. A ...
18
votes
3answers
522 views

Are human fetuses more likely to be male? [duplicate]

Question: From a physiological point of view, when sex is determined in a human fetus, is it equally likely to be male or female? Studies in this area typically measure age at birth, where the data ...
17
votes
3answers
473 views

Why would diffusion be faster across a non-specialised tissue?

The standard protocol for a person experiencing chest pains is to chew a 300mg aspirin tablet, the argument being that chewing rather than swallowing the tablet results in the aspirin entering the ...
11
votes
3answers
430 views

During starvation, does the human body do anything to prioritize which organs receive nutrients?

When food is scarce, the body slows its metabolic rate to conserve energy. Are there any other systems or processes that prioritize which organs receive nutrients?
10
votes
2answers
8k views

Why can all animals swim in water without learning to swim but humans cannot?

I had a question since I was a child. I was always curious about the fact that all animals can swim in water. They don't need any training or to learn swimming. But humans need to learn to swim. Why ? ...
9
votes
1answer
175 views

What bacteria do unborn babies contain?

This Scientific American article states that "[human] infestation [by bacteria] begins at birth". This would suggest that unborn babies are free from any bacteria. However, if the mother catches a ...
5
votes
2answers
731 views

How does the brain know where a signal came from? What is the addressing system

I am an electronic engineer so I am thinking about this from an electronics outlook. How does the addressing system work, As I see it, the nervous system is small parallel branches attached to larger ...
5
votes
3answers
14k views

Is it possible for a child to grow taller than their tallest parent?

I have heard that offspring can't grow taller than either of their parents but I've also heard that sometimes some gene activation can skip generations. Is it possible for a child to grow taller than ...
4
votes
1answer
193 views

What is the evolutionary cause for various finger lengths?

Why are the lengths the way they are with middle finger the longest?