Even though human beings are obsessed with dissecting and interpreting dreams ("I was giving Gary Busey a backrub while riding a flying armadillo." "Ah, this means you are feeling anxiety about your career.") we really know very little about what causes them or what purpose they serve.
Science's Wild-Ass Guess:
The old Freudian theory was that dreams were expressions of our unconscious desires, but none of the cool psychologists still follow Freud these days. Besides, if Freud was right far too many people have a sick fetish for being forced to take pop quizzes in their underwear.
ALL MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE!
Others have suggested dreaming is a way for our brain to formulate new ideas through the use of "random thought mutations" (one of you New Age musicians out there, you can have that album title for free).
Another theory states that dreaming is our brain tidying itself up and disposing of useless "junk thoughts." In order to buy this idea, though, you have to accept that the average guy's dreams about tits and being Batman are junk, and we're sure you agree that's simply unacceptable.
Dreams are windows to the soul, people.
Of course both of these seem awfully high-minded when you consider that animals also dream. Does your dog really have excess thoughts he has to get out of his overloaded doggy brain?
Perhaps weirdest of all is the mounting evidence that much of what influences our dreams comes from outside, not inside, our heads. Noises and scents may have an effect on the content of our dreams, and we bet your wacky tealeaf reading, dream-interpreting aunt didn't take into account the Earth's geomagnetic activity during her analysis.
Darwin considered blushing the "most peculiar" of human expressions, and had a hell of a time trying to explain why people would evolve such an obvious tell for when we're lying or feel vulnerable, considering our lives and relationships are all built on a precarious foundation or half-lies, unspoken truths and outright bullshit.
More than a century later, we still don't understand blushing any better than Darwin did.
Science's Wild-Ass Guess:
One idea is that blushing developed as a way of appeasing and submitting to dominant members of society. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense though as everyone blushes, dominant personality or not, and the whole process is involuntary anyway. Relying on something that you can't control to please the tribe leader back in primitive times seems like a good way to get yourself tossed in the volcano.
Yep, you're adorable. Still, though. To the volcano.
Others have gone the complete opposite direction, positing that blushing is not a sign of submission, but one of anger. We're all narcissists at heart and when somebody publicly shows us up or embarrasses us, blushing is basically us sending them an involuntary screw-you. We can see why some would like this theory, since it makes someone who blushes and mumbles their way through all their social interactions sound like a badass.
Some scientists, noting that women blush more than guys, have suggested that blushing developed specifically so they could prove they were honest and submissive towards men. We're sure feminists love that one.
"I just questioned a man! Curse my wicked mouth!"
Though that's quite a bit better than the Neo-Nazi theory that blushing only happens in white people, thus proving they are the only true humans created by God. Did you consider that, Darwin?
Anyone who's caught themselves an eyeful of flapping chimpanzee dong at the zoo can attest to the difference between humans and our ape cousins when it comes to body hair distribution. Most apes have furry bodies and their monkey junk flies free, while humans take the exact opposite approach, sporting mostly naked bodies with the exception of impressive bushes.
Calm down, it was an afro.
Why are our naughty bits surrounded with hair that attracts lice, bacteria and makes most pornos filmed before 1980 nearly unwatchable today?
Science's Wild-Ass Guess:
Traditionally the idea has been that pubic hair was for warmth and protection from dirt and debris, which makes a fair amount of sense for women, but zero for men who have the actual important bits dangling mostly hairless in the breeze.
A more modern theory is that pubes are meant to capture pheromone-laden sweat, although some question the appeal of musty crotch smell. Some argue it developed as a sexual ornament for attracting mates, like a sad, kind of gross equivalent of a peacock displaying its tail. Others believe the exact opposite; that having less pubic hair is an evolutionary advantage. Certainly most cultures throughout history (with a few exceptions, like those weirdos in Japan) haven't really prized the stuff.
Hell, there was even an old hypothesis that says--and get ready to cringe here--our short and curlies exist to give babies something to grab and hold onto. Are you picturing it? Come on! Picture it! Couple of dudes, talking casually near their cave, each with a newborn clinging to their bush.
Any of you new parents out there, grab your infant and try this, see if his evolutionary instincts will kick in and make him grab onto your carpet. Report your results in the comments!
Nathan Birch also writes the fur filled comic Zoology
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
For body conundrums that we do have the answers to, check out Sleep Jerk to Piss Shivers: 5 Body Mysteries Explained. Or check out the explanations behind sexual myths, in 6 Sex Myths as Explained by Science.
And stop by our Top Picks to see Gladstone and Brockway yawning at each other. Just, yawning.