Category: Evolution

Immunity & Indirect Short Stature

April 29, 2012 By arne hendriks 0

Pygmies’ short stature evolved to equip them for life in the jungle. But the exact driving force is the subject of scientific debate. It could have given them an evolutionary edge because smaller bodies are better suited to move through dense forest or because they…

1/6th Red Deer

April 8, 2012 By arne hendriks 0

Massive global evolutionary shrinkage may only manifest itself when it’s already too late. Even then it’s difficult to predict how much time it will take before man has adjusted to the new circumstances. Our best indication of human evolutionary shrinkage is the case of Homo floresiensis…

A Puzzle with 300+ Pieces

March 19, 2012 By arne hendriks Off

Medical science should approach every single form of dwarfism as a genetic miracle and not, as is often the case, as a genetic defect. We are in danger of throwing away the baby with the bathwater. A negative approach makes it difficult to see the…

The Shortlist

February 7, 2012 By arne hendriks 1

With an unprecedented adult height of only 54,6 cm a Nepali man has been recognized as the shortest man in recorded history. Despite his relatively old age of 72 years Chandra Bahadur Dangi never made it into the Guinness World Records list because he’s from a…

Krill Adaptations

January 28, 2012 By arne hendriks 0

Because environments vary with both predictable patterns and with unpredictable but recurring events, ecologists have long been interested in the ecological adaptations that organisms use to survive periods in which the environment may be exceptionally harsh. One of the most interesting adaptations observed in the…

Somatostatin Zebrafish Farm

January 18, 2012 By arne hendriks 3

One of the most promising consequences of downsizing the human species is the change in space and time it’ll take to grow food. In several research installations at Food Forward (a look into the future of food) The Incredible Shrinking Man investigates new possibilities. Like the…

GH Resistance

December 26, 2011 By arne hendriks 1

Stature is a highly heritable trait controlled by genetic and environmental factors. Pygmies display a remarkable and inspiring resistance to growth hormone (GH). African Pygmies represent a paradigmatic example of non-disease-related idiopathic short stature. Even if large quantities of GH are administered to them, they simply ignore…

Medicalizing Short Stature

November 17, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

The US market for growth hormone is estimated at 22 billion dollars. But it wasn’t always such an enormous market. Two growth hormone producers, Eli Lilly and Genentech, have worked hard to medicalize short stature and convince children and their parents that being short is a disease rather than a…

Human Hypervariability

November 2, 2011 By arne hendriks 2

Humans are an extremely hypervariable species. There is a large intraspecial difference between its largest and smallest members. The smallest adult person, Chandra Bahadur Dangi, is less than 55 centimeters tall, while the tallest person that ever lived, Robert Wadlow, reached a height of 272 centimeters. That makes…

Rewilding Ghost Suburbia

October 21, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

If mankind decides to shrink, and we succeed to achieve an average height of 50 centimeters as The Incredible Shrinking Man proposes, one of the most significant changes will be the increase of available space. The scale of buildings, infrastructure and distance will be enormous…

Milk

October 17, 2011 By arne hendriks 1

Body height is a classic polygenic trait. About 80% to 90% of your height is inherited and 10% to 20% owed to environmental factors, of which nutrition is the most important. Of those nutrients perhaps milk is the one associated most with increased human height.…

Brown Fat Thermogenesis

September 25, 2011 By arne hendriks 1

If we shrink to 50 centimeters controlling body temperature becomes a real challenge. Large mass bodies can much easier deal with differences in outside temperature. But perhaps a simple evolutionary adaptation, observed in small mammals and human infants, points towards a possible solution. Biologist Per-Ivar…

Reality Repitch

September 22, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

If we are to shrink, our new tone of voice will need some getting used to. Perhaps a reality repitch of the protagonist’s voice in The Incredible Shrinking Man will give some insights in this process. First results show that a gradual repitch of 4 octaves…

Monkey Lungs

September 11, 2011 By arne hendriks 2

According to the flamboyant geneticist and evolutionary biologist  J.B.S. Haldane, comparative anatomy is largely the story of the struggle to increase surface in proportion to volume. For human lungs this meant that as we grew larger, in order to bring enough oxygen to all parts…

Downsized Flames

July 24, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

Our relationship with fire is one of the oldest and most fundamental relationships with the natural environment. Fire keeps us warm, cooks our food and melts our steel. We know how much heat comes from a gas lighter, how much wood we need to heat…

Supersize Tourism

June 14, 2011 By arne hendriks 1

Jim Hejl keeps a website called Jim’s Big Things with photos of himself near (you guessed it) BIG things. He typically finds these things near freeways, in shopping malls, in restaurants and amusement parks. It started harmlessly with a single blurry photo of Jim next to a…

Helium Speech

May 24, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

People with growth anomaly, like Jyoti, often have very high pitched voices. It’s a tone of voice that takes some getting used to. And we might have to if we decide to shrink ourselves. In a rather humorous clip from a German TV show we…

Relative Strength Empowerment

April 10, 2011 By arne hendriks 3

Every 20% increase in height is a 73% increase in weight, yet muscles only become 44% stronger ( that’s about the equivalent to increase in surface area), and bones less than that. There is a clear limit to the amount of surplus strength tall people…

Pygmy People

March 20, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

Pygmy is a term used for various ethnic groups whose average height is less than 150 cm (4 feet 11 inches). The best known pygmies are the Mbuti of Central Africa. There are also pygmies in Asia, Australia and South America. Especially interesting are the Rampasasa of the island of Flores in…

On Being the Right Size

March 18, 2011 By arne hendriks 0

It’s hard to deny the clear and convincing arguments made in the 1928 paper On Being the Right Size by the excentric geneticist  J.B.S. Haldane. According to Haldane every living thing grows into the size it’s supposed to have. Eyes, Lungs, wings and limbs all…