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Thread: Hiccups

  1. #1
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    Hiccups

    What are hiccups for? How did they evolve?
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  2. #2
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    Take your pick. I don't find any of them compelling. Not everything has an evolutionary "purpose".

    Grant Hutchison

  3. #3
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    The improvement in suckling seems plausible and it seems to me air in the stomach would be detected by distending as it warms up. The remedy of holding your breath increases CO2 levels and thus leads to preferring breathing over hiccuping. Mammals suckle. Burping may be a more useful reflex for swallowed air but also has conscious control, so the hiccup may survive into adult life for that involuntary purpose. The coordination of the stomach sensors to differentiate trapped air from food arriving is not surprising given the size and complexity of the stomach brain. It knows what is going on!
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Take your pick. I don't find any of them compelling. Not everything has an evolutionary "purpose".

    Grant Hutchison
    I agree. We also get Charlie horses, and I doubt they have an evolutionary advantage, but are just something that happens and aren’t a big deal, so there’s no particular evolutionary pressure either for or against them. So it might simply be something like that.
    As above, so below

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    The improvement in suckling seems plausible and it seems to me air in the stomach would be detected by distending as it warms up. The remedy of holding your breath increases CO2 levels and thus leads to preferring breathing over hiccuping. Mammals suckle. Burping may be a more useful reflex for swallowed air but also has conscious control, so the hiccup may survive into adult life for that involuntary purpose. The coordination of the stomach sensors to differentiate trapped air from food arriving is not surprising given the size and complexity of the stomach brain. It knows what is going on!
    I don't buy it. As a way of releasing trapped stomach gas, a hiccup can only work if the gastric air bubble is sitting under the lower oesophageal sphincter. Because of the horizontal orientation of the lower oesophagus and stomach in quadrupeds and suckling human infants, that's generally not the case. The vertical orientation of oesophagus and stomach in upright human adults is extremely unusual, evolutionarily speaking.

    There's a reason we turn babies upright to burp them.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2021-Apr-01 at 02:12 PM.

  6. #6
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    With gestation and suckling as hypotheses I wonder if monotremes hiccup (iirc they lick and I know they lay eggs.
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Take your pick. I don't find any of them compelling. Not everything has an evolutionary "purpose".
    Heh, I found the same article by searching for “hiccups evolution” - it was the first result.

    I’ve always assumed it was just due to the occasional events causing the diaphragm to glitch, with no evolutionary advantage but also little disadvantage. I suppose it could be life threatening in the rare cases where something causes intense hiccups that continue for a very long time, but I believe those are very rare. From an evolutionary view, with little disadvantage, I’d expect there would be little pressure to evolve a way to stop them.

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  8. #8
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    We also shouldn't place too much emphasis on the correlation "mammals hiccup and mammals suckle", because mammals are also characterized by having diaphragms, whereas most other animals don't, and those that do have very different anatomy. So the primary reason birds and lizards don't hiccup is because they lack the anatomical structure that generates hiccups, not because they don't suckle.

    Grant Hutchison

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