It's weird: Much of what is going on inside our own bodies is still a complete mystery to us. For instance, we pointed out a while back that science has no idea why we yawn. Then you have things like crying, or laughter, which are parts of our everyday lives, but upon closer examination make no sense at all -- why would we signal sadness with eyeball drool?
And the theories as to why we do some of these things are downright bizarre ...
5Hiccuping Is Your Inner Fishman Fighting Back
Hiccups are a series of stupid, diaphragm-driven breath convulsions that bother you for a while, then vanish just as inexplicably. You might have grown up thinking that it's the body trying to get rid of some air you swallowed, but that doesn't appear to be the case (babies even hiccup in the womb). In fact, scientists actually aren't sure what purpose they serve, if any.
But there is a scientific consensus on exactly how annoying hiccups are.
If you think of your body as a temple for the pantheon of your bodily functions, hiccuping would be the trickster god running amok and mooning people for shits and giggles.
The Surprising Truth:
Hiccuping may be useless to you now, but some scientists think it played a huge part in what got you there in the first place.
Think much further back. And slightly more damp.
The theory is that hiccuping is a remnant from an ancient stage of evolution. Namely, the moment where our great-great-great-great-ancestors under the sea took a look at the giant hellbeasts their aquatic living environment was riddled with and turned their gaze to the relatively horror-free land environment. The first obstacle they had to overcome was the whole issue with breathing. After a few attempts, they realized that they obviously couldn't just jump on land and go "ta-da!" So they adapted by small steps. As evolution started to toy with the concept of "lungs," these creatures weren't ready to fully commit to breathing air and kept their gills, remaining amphibious.
"And I'm keeping my rotary phone and Children's Medicinal Heroin, too!"
Eventually, the gills went away -- but a small remnant of the system that operated them remains inside you even today, and every once in a while it goes "Oh shit, I can't breathe!" and gasps for air for a while before it remembers that it technically doesn't exist.
So the next time you get a nasty case of hiccups, cherish your ancestry -- it's just this guy waving from the annals of history:
National Science Foundation
Don't let great-granddad's smile fool you. He's disappointed in us.