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The human back is a design disaster

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Everyone who lives long enough is likely to experience back pain. And the cause isn't just aging— we have evolution to blame for a spine that's an engineering nightmare. Cheddar explores how our spines changed to accommodate human bipedalism.

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How does evolution really work? Actually, not how some of our common evolutionary metaphors would have us believe. For instance, it's species, not individual organisms, that adapt to produce evolution, and genes don't "want" to be passed on— a gene can't want anything at all! Set the record straight on the finer points of evolution.

You know that little pink thing nestled in the corner of your eye? It’s actually the remnant of a third eyelid. In humans, it’s vestigial, meaning it no longer serves its original purpose. There are several other vestigial structures in the human body, quietly riding along from one of our ancestor species to the next. But why have they stuck around for so long?

In the past 3,000 years, many populations have evolved genetic adaptations to their local environments. People in Siberia and the high arctic are uniquely adapted to survive extreme cold. The Bajau people can dive 70 meters and stay underwater for almost 15 minutes. So what are other recent changes? And will our technological innovations impact our evolution?

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About TED-Ed Best of Web

TED-Ed Best of Web are exceptional, user-created lessons that are carefully selected by volunteer teachers and TED-Ed staff.

Meet The Creators