Monday, May 19, 2008

The Evolution of the Hiccup and Other Traits reproduces a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the evolution of the hiccup, why we have hernias and other lovable traits conducted with Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish. According to the story:

The sound of a hiccup echoes back to our very distant past as fish and amphibians some 375 million years ago, Shubin said. It's really just a spasm that causes a sharp intake of breath followed by a quick partial closing of our upper airway with that flap of skin known as the glottis. It's best if you can nip it in the first couple of hics, he said.

It's much harder to stop once you've let yourself get up to 10. By that point, you've reverted to an ancient breathing pattern orchestrated by the brain stem that once helped amphibians breath, letting water pass the gills without leaking into the lungs. "Tadpoles normally breathe with something like a hiccup," Shubin said.

Can't wait until the book comes.

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