8 Strange and Odd Facts About the Human Body That Will Keep Medical Students Awake at Night
Did you know that you’re taller in the morning than in the evening? Check out these other surprising facts about the human body here!
Updated 23 Feb 2022
The human body is a fascinating mass of bone, blood and flesh, making it a wonder to study and examine. Ever wondered what other secrets lie within it? You’re in luck, we’re here to reveal some of them!
From tumours with teeth to hearts that beat (while outside a body), these facts will stick with you for a long, long time. Read on to be fascinated.
#1. In cases of extreme starvation, the brain will begin to eat itself
Festive weight gain sucks (thanks, amazing but terribly fattening food), but if you were ever tempted to go for days without food just to lose a kilo or 5, stop right there.
According to researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, extreme dieting causes the brain to eat itself! When the body is starved for sustenance, the hypothalamus in the brain self-cannibalises as cells try desperately to get nutrients. You obviously want to keep your brain functioning, so eat a balanced diet to keep yourself healthy.
#2. When you blush, the inside of your stomach does too
If you thought only your face turned into an embarrassing shade of tomato red when you blush, you'll be amazed when you find out that your unassuming stomach blushes too.
When your cheeks go all hot and crimson, the sympathetic nervous system reacts and causes blood flow to increase throughout the body. Adrenaline dilates the blood vessels and speeds up blood and oxygen supply to your face and stomach lining, making both your cheeks and stomach redder.
#3. The human body contains enough fat to make 7 bars of soap
Oh yes, there's enough fat in your body to produce 7 solid bars of soap. Can you imagine scrubbing away dirt and grime from yourself using a bar made from the fat that is stored in your own cells?
This is actually possible since soap is partly made of fats and oils, from animal or plant sources. To make soap, fats need to combine with a strong alkali such as sodium (to make hard soap) or potassium hydroxide (if you want liquid soap) — this process is called saponification.
DID YOU KNOW
Miami artist Orestes de la Paz has created soap made from his own fat from his liposuction. His soap can be tried at Miami’s Frost Museum or purchased for $1,000.
#4. Hearts can beat outside of their bodies
This sounds impossible, but a heart can now be kept alive and beating outside of a human body thanks to the amazing Organ Care System (OCS) machine.
The Organ Care System (OCS) by TransMedics is revolutionising the way urgent organ transplant deliveries are being carried out. Previously, donor hearts and organs had to be placed on ice in plastic coolers and had to be raced to the destination hospital, with little time to spare. In many cases, the heart either doesn’t make it there on time or it has been too damaged from the cold ice.
Now, the heart can be delivered warm and beating, arriving in optimal condition for the transplant procedure. It's heartwarming to know that so many lives can now be saved with this new technology.
#5. There are tumours that can grow their own teeth and hair
These strange tumours are called teratomas (the Greek word for “monstrous tumours”). We strongly suggest not searching for images of teratomas after reading this as they're a little disturbing to look at. After all, teeth growing from tumours aren’t a pretty sight.
Teratomas are a germ cell tumour that may contain several different types of tissue such as teeth, hair, muscle and bone. They usually appear in ovaries, testicles and tailbones. In some cases, they also occur in the central nervous system like the brain or spinal cord.
#6. Every organ you have 2 of, you only need 1 of to survive
Have you ever heard people joke about selling their kidney for the latest iPhone? There’s a possibility that they’re only half-joking since for every double organ you have, only one of them is needed for you to survive and go about your daily life.
It's true! According to the National Kidney Foundation, if you donated one of your kidneys, you can still live with few or no health problems at all and will have a normal life expectancy.
#7. You are taller in the morning than in the evening
Have you ever felt like you shrank a few centimetres at the end of the day and couldn't understand why? Science explains this baffling phenomenon to us.
This is due to gravity compressing cartilage in our spine and knees when we stand up and sit down throughout the day. So thanks to gravity and the pressure your daily activities have on your spine, you’ll be a little shorter by the end of the day.
But, there’s no need to worry because your spine will “spread out” or decompress at night when you are lying down, making you just a little bit taller when you wake up in the morning.
#8. Tongue prints are as unique as fingerprints
You may already know that no one in the world has the same set of fingerprints as you, but did you know your tongue has its own unique tongue print too?
Yes, one of the strongest muscles in the human body presents both geometric shape information and physiological texture information. This could mean that with advanced technology in the future, our fingerprints may not be the only identification needed anymore.
We hope this article has helped you learn many new things about the human body. Know more strange facts about the human body? Let us know in the comments below!