6 Gross Bodily Functions Humanity Developed On Purpose
Our bodies are weird, as the farts that half of you will inadvertently release while reading this can attest. And though we all live in one, there's a lot about our bodies that we still don't understand. Why do we faint at the sight of blood? Why do teenagers break out into a pimply mess just when they've reached the point where they want to attract the opposite sex instead of making them run away in disgust?
Usually, the answer is that society evolves faster than biology, and quirks that helped us survive in the woolly mammoth days are now a pain in the ass. For example ...
Acne Might Have Kept You A Virgin Until You Were Strong Enough To Raise Kids
Acne doesn't seem to serve any purpose beyond making the lives of teenagers even more miserable. A bad case of it pretty much guarantees that you have plenty of spare time to do your math homework, because no one wants to date someone who looks like an alien life form is slowly taking over their face. And despite your mom insisting that you were still beautiful, that may have been nature working exactly as intended.
Nature is a dick.
According to one theory, there was a time when a pimply mess on your face kept the opposite sex away while you went through the process of becoming a finely-tuned reproductive machine. Adolescence produces an interest in sex, but it doesn't magically provide you with the experience and maturity required to raise a child (or to defend it from wolves, if we're thinking in terms of evolution here).
So acne provided a buffer period, giving sexually-motivated adolescents time to learn how to be responsible. Because while bad parenting today merely means a visit from the government and/or a reality show contract, historically it meant dead children, which was a huge waste of resources -- and also prevented people from passing on their genes. Destroying the topography of a teen's face may have been nature's way of buying them time to realize they wouldn't make it as a wandering cave artist, get their hunting and gathering act together, and give their eventual offspring a better chance of survival.
Nature could have simply delayed sexual maturity, but nature likes watching you masturbate.
Another theory suggests that acne also made younger males look like less of a sexual threat to older men in the community, which protected them from harm until they were old enough to protect themselves. An older guy would look at some pimply-faced kid and conclude that the dweeb had no chance of stealing away his woman, and thus wasn't worth the hassle of bullying. Theorists are still working on how to make this theory jibe with everything we know about high school bullies.
So that smattering of acne you saw in the mirror every morning as a teen may have been millions of years of evolution telling you that you were too much of a wuss to get laid or avoid harassment. In other words, your mom couldn't have been more wrong.
Contagious Vomiting Made Sure We Didn't All Get Poisoned
Let's say you're at a party where alcohol is served, which we're told is a popular thing these days. Eventually, someone has one more Jell-O shot than their body can handle, and all the messy contents of their stomach come out to give the kitchen floor a slick coat of acid and regret. An onlooker sees the vomit and starts to look sick themselves, and after they puke, the two puddles of upchuck start to make you feel queasy too, even though you haven't had a single drop of alcohol (you're a recovering alcoholic, forced to quit after drinking ruined your career and marriage). The next thing you know, you're looking at some half-digested Funyuns and trying to calculate how much the host is going to charge you to have his dog professionally bathed.
Cracked Tip: Gin washes out much easier than bourbon.
It's easy to assume that contagious vomiting, also known as Stand By Meing, is triggered by the fact that vomit is gross. But your body actually tries its hardest to avoid vomiting, because it's terrible for you. You lose electrolytes and fluids, stomach acid erodes your teeth, and the vomit can clog up your breathing passages. However, it's also an extremely effective way to expel poison or far too many mixed drinks from your body.
So the theory is that social vomiting, in addition to being a great name for a punk band, is an extension of that defense mechanism. Back when we foraged for food in groups, there was a constant risk of eating something that was spoiled or poisonous, because eating used to be a trial-and-error process. Since we shared our meals, one person having an adverse reaction meant there were good odds that everyone else in the group was going to get sick too.
It took a lot of caveman to eat one velociraptor.
So social vomiting could have evolved as a disgusting cautionary reflex to expel any toxins that might have been ingested before they incapacitated everyone and left the tribe vulnerable. And now we use it as a hilarious signal that it's time for everyone to quit voluntarily drinking poisonous alcohol for the evening. There's no better proof that we've conquered nature than that.
Fainting At The Sight Of Blood May Be A Defense Mechanism
Now, here's one that seems like a pure defect. About three to four percent of people and 30 to 40 percent of anime characters suffer from blood phobia, which makes you feel faint at the sight of blood. And while there are countless phobias out there, blood is unique in that people who dislike it would rather pass out than have to deal with it. You don't see Indiana Jones fainting into a pit of snakes, or socially anxious people losing consciousness the moment someone at a party asks them what they've been up to lately. Those phobias kick your blood pressure and heart rate into overdrive. A blood phobia, meanwhile, produces a vasovagal response, which is essentially the opposite reaction. Your heart rate and blood pressure take a dive like a gangster's threatening their family, which can produce dizziness, sweatiness, tunnel vision, nausea, and fainting. How in the hell does that help someone, in any possible situation?
Well, it does stop you from having to look at the blood ...
While it's inconvenient if you get a paper cut, one theory suggests that this reaction is a reflex which helped our ancestors survive gruesome injuries. A plummeting heart rate and blood pressure slows bleeding, which means the reaction could have been an effective response to injury. Since ancient man's public healthcare system was slightly less reliable than modern America's, you had to trust in your body's own ability to staunch a bleeding wound. Quietly fainting made it much easier for your body to do its job than panicking or trying to soldier through it would have.
Fainting at blood also might have helped your ancestors play dead, or at least play sufficiently wimpy. If you were losing a fight with another caveman and the sight of your own blood made you pass out, then you might be left alone to live and fight another day. Cavemen had to conserve their energy, so an enemy that was down and out wouldn't be worth further attention. Although it's possible they would draw a dick on your face first, because there's no doubt an evolutionary basis in that impulse as well.
Colorblindness May Have Let Us See Through Camouflage
Let's say you're a hunter tracking an antelope through tall grass, because that's the first of 10 challenges you must complete to earn an invitation to Cracked's VIP Lounge. It's not an easy task ... unless you're red-green colorblind. That's the most common type of colorblindness, and, in what may not be a coincidence, it's also a highly effective camouflage-buster.
If you're colorblind, this looks fashionable.
If you can't see green, that antelope is suddenly a swath of eye-catching brown in a sea of nondescript grey. And without all that bold, distracting color, you can more easily spot subtle differences in texture, shape, and brightness between objects, which would benefit a hunter. So while the many plants and animals that rely on camouflage could hide from most of our ancestors, they couldn't hide from all of them. We could send in specialists to help during the hunt, like we were ramping up our search for Jason Bourne.
Plus, they weren't scared of seeing blood or vomit.
This one isn't hypothetical, by the way. In Costa Rica, there are colorblind Capuchin monkeys that excel at foraging for camouflaged insects compared to their Technicolor comrades. So a small but significant number of humans were able to spot what had evolved to hide from the majority of us. Camouflaged predators like tigers would also have been easier to spot and defend against with a couple of colorblind folks on the team. So if you're colorblind, don't worry about being unable to enjoy raves. Instead, take comfort in knowing that, if society collapsed tomorrow, you could be a surprisingly hot commodity.
Baby Colic Could Have Been A Trick To Get Attention
Parents would almost rather hear that their baby's been kidnapped than learn that it has colic. Colic is when a baby cries constantly, despite being in good health and having no apparent needs. A baby with colic will spend hours wailing, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Estimates on how many babies get it range from five to 25 percent (baby screeching analysis isn't a terribly accurate science), and its cause is unknown. All you can do is wait it out, which is easier said than done when your baby's in week 17 of auditioning for a metal band and part of you is wondering if it's too late to get a cat instead.
Pro: No need to pay for college in 18 years. Con: Because it will be dead.
Colic is like parenting on hard mode. Parents get stressed, exhausted, and, in extreme cases, can even abuse their baby out of frustration. And all because, according to one theory, babies with colic are little sneaks trying to trick their parents. Babies normally cry when they need something -- they're hungry, or they're cold, or they tried to eat a Ninja Turtle and it didn't go well. That cry leads to parental attention, and their problem is solved. Crying means survival, so babies with colic figure, "Hey, why don't I improve my odds of survival by getting attention literally all the time?"
But while babies want as much attention as they can muster, parents want to spread their efforts between all of their children. Your parents weren't lying when they said that they loved you and your siblings equally -- they just failed to mention that lovingly raising four kids boosted the odds of their genetic survival. One kid can die of tuberculous and another can get dragged off by wolves, and you'd still have two left to continue the family. But babies want to thrive even if it's at the expense of their brothers and sisters, because babies can be jerks. Colic gets them attention that would otherwise be going to other babies.
This strategy may have backfired on Spartan babies.
It's a bold strategy because, as anyone who's curled up with a bucket of ice cream and a queue of sappy Netflix movies knows, crying takes a lot of energy. If the colic gambit backfires, you're left in worse shape, which is why the average baby only cries when it's in legitimate need. Plus, if every baby constantly screamed their heads off, crying would lose all meaning as a signal, and we might be willing to give up on the entire species in exchange for one night of good sleep. But if only a few babies are doing it, the trick remains effective. Of course, babies don't need all that extra attention in a world with modern medicine and child-rearing methods, making colic useless and annoying today. But good luck explaining evolution to some whiny baby who won't shut up for five minutes.
Evolution Favored Guys Who Couldn't Last Long In Bed
Premature ejaculation can be a major cause of embarrassment, relationship stress, and stammering apologies about how that usually doesn't happen and it's probably because you're so much hotter than other girls, babe. But to our ancient ancestors, who had sex out of a base need to reproduce before a tiger attacked them, the Fast and Furious approach might have been the best one.
Consider a caveman pumping away for half an hour in some jungle, assuming you don't already have that fetish video open in another tab. Even if an annoyed neighbor didn't club him in the face to stop his grunting, he wasn't as likely to pass on his genes as the jack-in-the-box lover boy who went around blowing his 10-second load into every woman he could find. The two-pump cavechump was also going to have a better chance of avoiding confrontation with competitors when his loincloth was down, so he had improved odds of living longer and continuing to get briefly down with the caveladies.
Sex improved greatly with the invention of the wall.
If this all sounds like a scientist's desperate attempt to placate his frustrated wife, keep in mind that we're talking about a time thousands of years before sex was thought of as a fun thing that could be done for its own sake. The goal was to make lots of babies in the hopes that at least a few would survive. And we can still see the pros and cons of boning against the clock in other primates. Male macaque monkeys often mount females for an hour at a time. Which may make you jealous, until you learn that their mating often descends into chaos, as rival males learn about it and attack them. Conversely, bonobos only last 13 seconds in the jungle sack, but they're peaceful and promiscuous.
There's also some evidence to suggest that premature ejaculation is hereditary, thanks to a dopamine transporter gene associated with quick triggers. So in addition to letting some modern men have a really awkward talk with their dads, the "advantages" of premature ejaculation would have been passed on from one Speedy Gonzalez to the next.
If Dad only gave you his bad heart, be thankful.
This would explain why around 30 percent of men struggle with premature ejaculation, and also why there's such a huge discrepancy between the time it takes men and women to achieve orgasm. A woman's orgasm is a fun evolutionary side effect, but it's not strictly necessary if nature's goal is rapid and efficient reproduction. Of course, men who know how to overcome that discrepancy and make sure the woman enjoys herself are the ones with the advantage today. For the rest of you, calmly explain to her that female pleasure is scientifically inessential to the survival of the species. Have some bonobo videos handy to illustrate the point.
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For more in-depth looks at our disgusting meatbags, check out 6 Things Your Body Does Every Day (That Can Destroy You) and 6 Freaky Things Your Body Does (Explained By Science).
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