#2. Why Are We Nice to Each Other?
Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This one's easy: Because we're not dicks.
Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
For the most part.
But how much sense does that make, really? Way back in our hunter-gatherer days, when survival was all that mattered, if you found a tiered layer cake sitting in the middle of the forest, sharing said cake with fellow humans would have run directly contrary to your own survival instincts. That is your god-damn cake, and you will bite the faces of all who seek to swipe at its frosting with their thieving fingers. Genuine selfless acts of kindness should have been straight-up disadvantageous -- those humans who looked out for number one should have survived to pass on their jerkwad genes, while altruism should have been stamped out with other evolutionary dead ends like tails and gills and enjoying the comedic performances of Robert De Niro.
Gills and tails? Gone. Little Fockers? Still here. Way to think it through, nature.
So why did altruism survive? You guessed it: We don't know.
Scientists have been trying to unlock the secret of altruism for the better part of a century. In the '60s, George Price even devised a complex mathematical equation to try to figure out how altruism could possibly survive, when it seems to be so disadvantageous to survival. Price became so consumed by his research that he started seeking out needy strangers, inviting them to live in his apartment while he locked himself away in his office to obsess over his theorem. Ultimately, when he felt that he had no more left to give to others, Price killed himself with a pair of freaking scissors. Maybe instead of unlocking the secret to altruism, Price's equation unlocked the puzzle box from Hellraiser.
#1. Why Are Some of Us Left-Handed?
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images
About 90 percent of the people in the world are right-handed -- to save time, we'll go ahead and refer to these as "normals." The other 10 percent are left-handed, and again, purely in the interest of saving time, we'll refer to these folks as "subhuman Morlock freak witch-people." This lopsidedness is unique to humans, as other creatures in the animal kingdom are pretty much equally divided between the two, if they show a preference at all. Why are we so different? After all, it's not like the subhuman Morlock freak witch-people's brains were bolted in wrong or something -- they manage the speech signals from the left hemisphere of the brain, same as the normals. Moreover, normals often have a dominant left foot, and vice versa, which suggests that the preference doesn't extend to the rest of the body. Scientists have been trying to come up with an answer since around the time the subhuman Morlock freak witch-people viciously seceded from polite society, but so far it's remained a mystery.
Go get your torches and pitchforks; shit just got real.
We do know that left-handedness is a genetic trait, so that means the genes responsible for it must offer some advantage in order to get successfully passed on. It's not at all clear, however, what that advantage might have been. Since the overall percentage of subhuman Morlock freak witch-people is pretty low, one might safely assume that we're seeing the last vestige of a trait that's in the process of getting booted out of fun time at the gene pool, but that's totally not the case: Studies of prehistoric sites have shown that the percentage of subhuman Morlock freak witch-people has stayed roughly the same through all of human history.
We so rarely get to use the phrase "An evil as old as time itself."
Looking beyond left-handedness, the fact that we have a dominant hand at all is largely a mystery. Hell, while we're at it, the overall asymmetry of the human anatomy is something that keeps guys in lab coats scratching their heads: our hearts lean to one side, our lungs are built differently from one another, Lefty hangs lower than Righty. While this phenomenon has been observed in the great apes as well, the human brain is where it's most noticeable: Our brains are wildly asymmetrical, and some scientists believe that this asymmetry could very well be the defining trait that makes us human.
That, and the ability to talk with our butts.
Related Reading: Rather read some more conventional mysteries? We've got possible alien-caused murders in the snow and disappeared colonies, plus a whole bunch more. Still craving mystery? The Voynich manuscript is an entire encyclopedia, written in a language today's best code-breakers can't decipher. This is all easier to stomach when you realize we can't even explain the human yawn.