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Hiccups: The Amphibious Past

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For ages people have wondered why it is that they hiccup. University of Chicago Professor Neil Shubin published a book on his theory of why. In his discoveries he has recently come across Tiktaalik, or simply "the missing link." This animal is an example of a "fishapod" meaning part fish and part land animal. This would be considered our earliest known land-dwelling ancestor. In studying the fossils, scientists are figuring out many of the traits we still have in common with this early stage of evolution.
Aside from many other interesting similarities between humans and Tiktaalik, hiccuping is now better explained because of this. Back when we had gills, the brain would need to send a signal when it wanted to switch from lungs to gills. A hiccup technically closes the lungs so that the now hypothetical gills could start working and now flood water into the lungs. This entire brains stem function is inherited from the fishapod and earlier.

Flam, Faye. "Hiccups, hernias and flatulence — some intelligent design - National." The Age - Business News, World News & Breaking News in Australia - theage.com.au. 10 May 2008. 30 Nov. 2008 .

Madrigal, Alexis. "The Best Cure for Hiccups: Remind Your Brain You're Not a Fish | Wired Science from Wired.com." Wired Blogs. 25 Feb. 2008. 30 Nov. 2008 .

McKie, Robin. "Review: Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin | Books | The Observer." The Guardian | guardian.co.uk. 10 Feb. 2008. 1 Dec. 2008 .

Randerson, James. "Tadpoles take blame for human hiccups." Science news and science jobs from New Scientist. 5 Feb. 2003. 30 Nov. 2008 .

 

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