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Questions tagged [human-biology]

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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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 ...
28
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7answers
5k 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....
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2answers
1k views

Why do we have more male infants born?

For every 104 male babies, we have 100 female babies and there are statistics which are more reliable. (Those tell us that we have 997 female infants born per 1000 male infants born.) What is the ...
23
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5answers
19k 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?
32
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4answers
4k 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 &...
40
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6answers
2k 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 ...
20
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5answers
8k views

How did the cardiovascular system evolve?

How has evolution created our blood, lungs and the heart? We can't exist without blood, which transports the oxygen to all areas of our body. However, the blood needs a lung, which gives it the ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Why do people have darker skin in sunnier climates?

I don't understand why darker skin is advantageous in hotter climates. Wouldn't it absorb more of the heat? I have heard that it reduces the incidence of cancer, but I would think absorbing more ...
73
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3answers
15k 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 ...
83
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6answers
27k views

Are humans the only species who drink milk as adults?

I was drinking a glass of milk the other day and that got me thinking that no other animal to my knowledge drinks milk past their infant stages. One could argue that cats might but it isn't good for ...
26
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4answers
31k 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
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1answer
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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 ...
18
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2answers
4k 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'...
10
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3answers
1k views

Is there a consensus on whether or not race exists on a biological level?

The most recent survey I could find was from 1985 which said that 16% of biologist disagreed that "[t]here are biological races in the species Homo sapiens." I was wondering if there's been a change ...
7
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2answers
13k 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 ...
30
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4answers
954 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 ...
79
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4answers
92k 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 ...
34
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6answers
36k 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 ...
20
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1answer
6k views

Why can hair grow without limit while eyebrow cannot?

I cut my eyebrow and it grows until reach a certain length. Hair can grow without limit. Why can hair grow without limit while eyebrow cannot?
11
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1answer
3k 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?
12
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1answer
402 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 ...
26
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3answers
26k 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 ...
19
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3answers
11k 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?
15
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3answers
839 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 ...
8
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1answer
1k 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 ...
30
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4answers
24k views

Can humans eat grass?

Can a human eat grass and digest it? Could it be possible to use it as food just like other plants such as wheat or beans?
29
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1answer
1k 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-...
26
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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 ...
20
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4answers
7k 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
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5answers
9k views

Do men and women have the same number of genes?

As far as I know, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, each one which contains a particular amount of genes. But in the "last" pair, men have a XY pair chromosome, and women have a XX pair chromosome. ...
8
votes
2answers
684 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 ...
29
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3answers
133k views

Why do mammalian red blood cells lack a nucleus?

How did the red blood cell in humans get to lose its nucleus (and other organelles)? Does the bone marrow just not put the nucleus in, or is it stripped out at some stage in the construction of the ...
11
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
4k views

Can two humans with 44 chromosomes produce viable offspring?

It is known that there are very few individuals having 44 chromosomes, not the usual 46 chromosomes. One example is a male in China: the first article, the second article. The other is a female in ...
11
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3answers
8k views

How much weight/volume do microbes occupy within the human body?

Microorganisms constitute the bulk of all the biomass on Earth. I weighed myself yesterday, and wondered how much less I would weigh if I were completely free of bacteria and microbes, inside and out. ...
8
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4answers
164k views

How long human can survive with just drinking water everyday

Can humans live without eating food, just by drinking water? How long can we survive just by drinking water everyday?
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2answers
3k views

Can the human body create glucose out of fat?

I read conflicting views about whether or not the human body can create glucose out of fat. Can it?
25
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2answers
537 views

Can an adult without genetic lactase persistence still develop a tolerance for dairy foods?

While investigating the rise of adult lactose tolerance, I came across the news that China has been encouraging its citizens to drink more milk, even though most of the Asian population lacks the SNP (...
19
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3answers
2k views

Why do we get runny noses in the cold?

The most annoying thing for me about being cold is a runny nose. Is there an advantage to having a runny nose when cold? What does having a runny nose achieve?
15
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4answers
38k 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 ...
13
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1answer
2k 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 ? ...
10
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3answers
3k views

Do humans produce rennin?

At school, we've been taught that human infants produce rennin/chymosin (which aids in the digestion of milk). More specifically, it is the peptic cells in the stomach which secrete prorennin, the ...
8
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2answers
6k views

Like other animals, why humans don't have species & breeds?

Like other animals, why don't humans have species & breeds ? Even my pet dog is one type of breed, but we (humans) lack breeds & species? What is the main reason?
4
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2answers
325 views

Can an argument be made that humans are 90% bacterial?

On the blog, All about Scientist in Microword: Microbiology, I read the post We are 90% bacteria, actually, which says that humans are 90% bacterial cells. If this is the case, then why don't we ...
0
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1answer
111 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 ...
265
votes
3answers
233k 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 ...
40
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4answers
29k 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 ...
26
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2answers
35k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

The information between the brain and peripheral nerves is sent via electrical pulses or signals, How then does a non-metallic human cell manage to conduct an electrical signal?
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4answers
15k 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 ...
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1answer
8k views

What causes morning wood?

Sometimes men wake up with an erection in the morning. Why does this happen?