10 Biggest Basic Design Flaws in the Human Body

The human body is one of the most complex things to exist in nature. There are thousands of complex mechanisms going on inside the body that helps us to function, but it is not all perfect. There are many flaws in the human body. Evolution can be blamed for most of them. Like Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist at Princeton University, says, “Evolution doesn’t produce perfection. It produces function.” So we bring you 10 such basic design flaws in the human body, all thanks to evolution.

1. Allergies are basically the body attacking itself because of the presence of a foreign substance which in the majority of cases is harmless to the body.

Allergies are basically the body attacking itself because of the presence of a foreign substance, which in the majority of cases is harmless to the body
Allergies are basically the body attacking itself because of the presence of a foreign substance, which in the majority of cases is harmless to the body. Image Credit: PEXELS

Allergies are hypersensitive reactions by the human body in response to an alien substance that either enters or comes in contact with the body. Such substances include pet dander, pollen, or bee venom. There is no fixed number of allergens. Any substance can be treated as an allergen by the human body. It just varies from person to person. But the shocking part is most of the allergens are not harmful. In short, allergies are just an unnecessary overreaction by the human body towards harmless substances. To top it all off, some allergic reactions are so severe that they can be fatal.

This is one of the biggest flaws of the human body. The immune system reacts because it does not have the necessary antibodies to attack the foreign substance. But this only happens to select individuals. Most of us already have the required antibodies. A better design would have been the body already equipped with every antibody. Evolution should have done that already, no? (source)

2. We experience excruciating pain from a tiny hole in the tooth, but we can get cancer and not know for years.

We experience excruciating pain from a tiny hole in the tooth, but we can get cancer and not know for years
We experience excruciating pain from a tiny hole in the tooth, but we can get cancer and not know for years. Image Credit: PxHere

People who have gone through a root canal procedure should be familiar with this. A simple decay in a tooth can lead to sleepless and extremely painful nights. The pain is so excruciating that immediate medical care is required. On the other hand, a person can suffer from cancer for many years before the symptoms are detected. That sounds a bit unfair considering the gravity of the disease here.

A National Cancer Patient ­Experience survey determined that out of the 71,793 patients, 25% of them said that they had visited their General Physician more than three times before being told to go for tests. Moreover, as of 2015, one in four British cancer patients are unlikely to live longer than six months due to late cancer diagnosis. Most of the diagnosis happens at either the third or fourth stage, and, by then, it’s too late for the treatment to work. Most people do not even realize they are suffering from cancer until they arrive at the Accident and Emergency wards. And even then, only 36% make it past one year. It would have been much better if the human body responded with excruciating pain for cancer rather than a tooth infection. (1, 2, 3)

3. Eyelashes falling loose and ending up in the one place they are supposed to protect, the eyes!

Eyelashes falling loose and ending up in the one place they are supposed to protect, the eyes!
Eyelashes falling loose and ending up in the one place they are supposed to protect, the eyes! Image for representational purposes only. Image Credit: Wikipedia

One of the primary reasons our eyes have eyelashes is to protect the eyes. The air around us is filled with particles such as dust and sand. These particles might cause irritation if they make their way into our eyes in large volumes. So, the eyelashes work to keep these particles away from the eyes. This is the reason why camels have such long eyelashes! But due to a simple flaw in the human anatomy, the eyelashes are defeating their own purpose! Sometimes when an eyelash comes loose, it makes its way inside the eyes and causes a lot of irritability.

Even the design of our eyelids is also pathetic when compared to other animals. Most animals have two sets of eyelids. One is opaque, similar to the ones we have, that keeps out the light, and the other is transparent and a clear “nictitating membrane.” The clear membrane helps to keep out dust and water and at the same time does not impair sight.  If we had a nictitating membrane, many of the eye problems would not even exist. (source)

4. A tiny blood clot has the ability to kill a person in a second. 

Blood clot
Blood clot motion/ Blood Clot. Image Credit: Wikipedia, Wikipedia

Its true, a small blood clot can take a person’s life. Known as “deep vein thrombosis” (DVT), these tiny blood clots occur when the blood thickens and forms clumps. Mostly, they originate in the lower legs or thighs. If the clot breaks off from the vein, it enters into the bloodstream and travels along with it. If the clot reaches the lungs and blocks the blood flow into it, it gives rise to a condition known as a “pulmonary embolism” (PE). PE is quite serious. It has the potential to damage the lungs, other organs, and even cause death under extreme circumstances.

The veins and arteries are very narrow and having clots travel through them and creating blockages is a serious flaw. (source)

5. We have “myopic” or “hypermetropic” eyes, not because of any injury or overuse, but because our eyes are too long or too short. A vast majority of people suffer from visual problems in their lifetime. 

We have myopic or hypermetropic eyes, not because of any injury or overuse but because our eyes are too long or too short
We have myopic or hypermetropic eyes, not because of any injury or overuse but because our eyes are too long or too short. Image Credit: PxHere

Eyes are considered to be one of the most important organs for humans. Then why is it that the human eye is full of functional issues? More than 70% of people in the Asian countries suffer from short-sightedness. All the eye defects that we suffer from are the fault of the eyes. Having a myopic eye means that your eye is simply too long. The image focuses before it reaches the back of the eye and falls out of focus when the light finally hits the retina. The opposite happens in case of hypermetropia. The eye is just too short. The image focusses after the light has crossed the retina. Basically, the eye is just a simple and plain bad design!

Human vision would be put to shame if compared with the vision of birds. Birds have excellent visual abilities. They can even see a broader range of wavelengths. We do not require such great visual abilities as birds, but our design could have been a little better so as to avoid the simple eye defects. (source

6. Bitting the inside of one’s own mouth.

Bitting the inside of one's own mouth
Bitting the inside of one’s own mouth. Image Credit: PxHere

All of us at some point in our lives have bitten the insides of our cheeks. It’s one of the worst injuries you can imagine. It’s quite frustrating as it takes forever to heal and keeps getting irritated by certain foods, especially citrus ones. Unlike an external wound, there is not an option to cover it up with a bandage. And if gets re-bitten, then that’s another story.

Accidental cheek biting is not a cause for concern. It mostly happens because the person was distracted while chewing food. Talking is the biggest culprit followed by watching TV, reading, or doing any other activity. But since our mouth is filled with sharp teeth, it would have been appropriate if the inside cheeks had some kind of protection from being bitten. This feature is a simple missing element in the complex design of the human body. (source)

7. Our pelvis is extremely small and leads to a lot of complications when it comes to childbirth.

Diagram of the female pelvis
Diagram of the female pelvis. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Childbirth is tough. And adding to the complications is the human pelvis. The pelvis in the female human body is an example of how evolution led to an imperfect mammalian design. There are two problems when it comes to the female pelvis. The first is that since we humans are bipedal, the birth canal is slightly tilted. The baby does not come out through a cylinder-like-canal. Instead, it has to take the sharp curve of the pelvis. This makes human births more complicated than other mammals.

The next problem is the size of our head. On account of evolution, humans have received the gift of large brains. As a result, the head size is also larger as compared to other mammals. Now human babies, having huge heads as compared to other mammals, add further complications to the already existing problem of the tilted pelvis. (1, 2)

8. The laryngeal nerve needs only travel a few inches from the brain to the larynx but goes the long way around under the aortic arch instead.

Drawing of the left recurrent laryngeal nerve
Drawing of the laryngeal nerve. Notice how it loops below the aortic arch to reach the larynx. Image Credit: Wikipedia

The laryngeal nerve is the nerve that connects to the larynx. The nerve takes a long route to get to the larynx. Because of this, it is often called “one of the most striking cases against intelligent design.” The nerve starts from the brain and goes deep into the chest cavity, and finally up to the larynx.

Biologists have been trying to explain this bizarre design flaw for a long time. Some suggest that it is due to embryological development. This is true to a large extent but still does not explain why the nerve starts on the wrong side of the aortic arch. If at the first stage of embryonic development the nerve would start correctly, then this problem would not even exist. So, unless and until scientists are able to pinpoint the advantage of the detour by the nerve, it’s going to remain a design flaw of the human body. (source)

9. Human spines are so inefficient that 80% of people suffer from neck or back pain at some point in their lives. 

Human spines are so inefficient that 80% of people suffer from neck or back pain at some point in their lives. 
Human spines are so inefficient that 80% of people suffer from neck or back pain at some point in their lives. Notice the shape of the spine – it’s facing forward at the lower end and backward near the head. Image Credit: Pixabay

Our spines are a complete mess. Bruce Latimer, director of the Center for Human Origins at Case Western Reserve University, says, “It’s a wonder we can even walk!” Our ancestors used to walk on all fours, like other animals. At that time, the spine used to be arched, like a bow. The shape was perfect to withstand the weight and pressure of the dangling organs. But then evolution kicked in and we started walking standing up. The entire spine had to rotate by 90 degrees! The arched spine was forced to behave like a column.

Now, to enable humans to walk on just two legs, the spine underwent few more changes. It curved forward at the lower back. At the same time to balance the head, the upper spine curved in the opposite direction. Because of the change in the design, there’s a lot of pressure on the lower vertebrae. This has led to almost 80% of the adults suffering from lower back pain.

It’s like forcing a suspension bridge to act like a pillar. There’s bound to be problems. (source)

10. Humans are the least efficient thermoregulators in the mammal world.

Humans are the least efficient thermoregulators in the mammal world
Humans are the least efficient thermoregulators in the mammal world. Image Credit: Pixabay

We sweat to maintain our body temperature. This is a common trait among mammals. But we humans have too many sweat glands when compared with other mammals. This makes us one of the least efficient thermoregulators in the mammal world. Moreover, with so many sweat glands, we lose a large quantity of water by doing simple things like walking or exercising. Even being nervous or stressed out leads to loss of water in humans! This would have been a problem if we were still living like animals.

But even though this is a terrible design, it makes sense when evolution is taken into account. We sweat like apes, our evolutionary cousins! (1, 2)

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