13 Weird Things Your Body Does That No One Can Explain

The past century has seen a massive increase in scientific explanations for different phenomena. From Alfred Wegener's 1912 theory of continental drift to the complete mapping of the human genome in 2003, scientists have – through their blood, sweat, tears, and feuds – provided plenty of insights into the nature of the universe, as well as why your body does weird stuff. One of the most dramatic scientific leaps has come in the area of medicine as doctors and researchers have begun to elucidate the most mysterious and complex processes of the human body. Thanks to these advances in modern medicine, doctors are not only able to offer explanations for strange things that the body does, but they are also able to provide better treatments to those in need.

However, despite the sheer amount of research done on and for humans, there is still a whole host of things that no one can explain about the body. These lasting enigmas largely revolve around the strange bodily functions that seem to either have no purpose or operate in a way that simply baffles scientists. Some of them are part of everyday life, while others are simply weird things that your body does without you ever even noticing. Whatever the case, the human body is a far more peculiar thing than you might ever have imagined.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • Nobody Knows Why We Find Kissing Enjoyable

    Although there are a very limited number of animals that "kiss," none of them do so romantically like human beings do. In fact, kissing isn't really even a general human "thing" – many cultures from around the world don't kiss, and scientists and anthropologists have discerned kissing to be a western cultural phenomenon. This makes it even more difficult to explain why some bodies seem to enjoy kissing so much. Kissing presents the threat of sharing 80 million saliva bacteria, and at least half of the human world finds it revolting. So why is it so arousing – a fundamental ritual of courtship – in some societies? 

    One prominent explanation is that it has evolved culturally as a way of being able to sniff out potential mates, giving people the chance to smell pheromones and genes in a partner to see if they are suitable. Some societies culturally evolved to get really up close and personal to take in pheromones through lip-on-lip contact, while others do it through more general close contact that doesn't actually involve saliva swapping. The root of social kissing, though, has been difficult to pinpoint, leaving it as one of those bodily mysteries for the ages.

  • It Remains A Mystery Why We Have Pubic Hair

    It Remains A Mystery Why We Have Pubic Hair
    Photo: Debmar-Mercury 20th Television

    The mere fact that humans have pubic hair at all is strange considering that fact that all other primates, our closest living relatives, are the exact opposite with hair covering everything on their bodies except the pubic regions. The reason for having pubic hair is also difficult to work out when those who remove it do not seem to suffer from any ill effects.

    Some of the suggested theories for why the human body grows thick hair near the genitals and under the arms include the idea that it provides protection, creates a cozy genital blanket, and acts to stop friction. However, the most prominent idea is that sweet, smelly pubic hairs collect pheromones to help attract mates.

  • There's No Explanation For Why We Go Through Puberty

    There's No Explanation For Why We Go Through Puberty
    Photo: Buena Vista Television

    We share so much with our primate cousins, including opposable thumbs and the majority of our genetic code. However, one thing they don't have to undergo is a hallmark of human existence: the bittersweet symphony that is puberty.

    In fact, out of all of the animals that live on planet Earth, only humans have the pleasure of experiencing that awkward, pimply, hormonal rollercoaster of physical and sexual maturation. Other creatures simply transition into adulthood in a constant kind of growing, rather than having a "childhood" of small to moderate growth followed by a protracted adolescence.  While scientists can't definitively explain that tumultuous period of human existence, they know that it must serve some purpose as it has lasted for at least 200,000 years.

  • Scientists Are Unsure Why We Feel Pain

    Pain is something that nearly everyone experiences despite the lengths that we go to in order to avoid it. Yet, the concept of pain in the human body is not fully understood in part because it's such a personal, subjective experience. Researchers know that certain stimuli hurt, and some pains can be treated with medication. They also know that it is transmitted via nerve cells sending signals to the brain. But that's about all they know.

    The exact reason for feeling pain may seem obvious – on many levels it's simply a warning that you could be about to seriously damage yourself. Still, it's so subjective and can occur in so many different ways that researchers haven't come to grips with how and why the brain interprets pain the way it does.

  • There's No Answer For Why Humans And Other Animals Sleep

    There's No Answer For Why Humans And Other Animals Sleep
    Photo: Buena Vista Distribution

    Despite the fact that every animal on the planet sleeps in one way or another for large proportions of its life, sleep is one of the great mysteries of modern science and one of the weirder things your body does. Perhaps to make it even more mysterious, scientists know that sleep is essential to life – humans can actually die if they get too sleep deprived. As far as explanations for it go, though, William C. Dement, founder of Stanford University's Sleep Research Center, once said that, "As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy." 

    Multiple theories have been offered to explain why we sleep, such as that it's a way to save energy, restore our bodies, and clear the brain of chemical buildups. But none of the explanations have come close to providing a definitive answer. Considering how much time we spend sleeping and the fact that we die without enough of it, it's difficult to think that it does not play some imperative role in sustaining life.

  • What Blushing Is Actually For Is An Enigma

    What Blushing Is Actually For Is An Enigma
    Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

    It is highly likely that you've blushed at some point in your life. This involuntary reddening of the face usually occurs when someone is embarrassed, shamed, or angered, but it can also be induced as a result of sexual and romantic situations. What scientists do know about blushing is that it's connected to the fight-or-flight response system, that complex network of hormonal, circulatory, and neural processes that enables us to respond to intense, threatening stimuli.

    However, why blushing is part of that system has puzzled scientists and psychologists for some time. The fact that it can be triggered by a variety of different psychological cues makes it even more difficult to explain. Different theories have suggested it may be a way of showing submissiveness or act as a communicative signal to others in a group, but none of these hypothesized explanations have been agreed upon.