Everything that's wrong with the human body

We like to think of ourselves as highly evolved, well-adapted creatures, but our retinas face backwards, we have too many bones in our wrists, and at least half our genome is junk. Biologist Nathan Lents explains what we can learn from our flaws.

14th June 2018
science focus podcast human errors nathan lents everything that's wrong with humans © Getty Images

We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures; but we’re far from perfect. We have pointless bones, retinas that face backwards, and muscles that don’t attach to anything.

Our genome is half junk, and our sinuses would drain better if we hung upside down. In fact, we seem to have more of these errors than most of the animal kingdom.

But as biologist Nathan Lents tells us, our flaws are interesting and informative. Each tells a story about our evolutionary history. And rather than being a depressing story listing our many failings, it’s an uplifting tale about co-operation, community and innovation.

He's outlined our short-comings and explained why we should appreciate them in his new book, Human Errors: A panorama of our glitches, from pointless bones to broken genes (£16.99, W&N). He speaks to BBC Focus editorial assistant Helen Glenny in this week's Science Focus Podcast.

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