Series H, Episode 4 - Humans
- There is no perfect man. All species of animal have an ideal called a "holotype", but there is no such holotype for humans. It could be argued it should be Carl Linnaeus, a Swede who invented modern taxonomy. Then an American palaeontologist called Edward Drinker Cope volunteered for to be the holotype, but upon examining his skeleton it was discovered he had syphilis and thus it ruled him out. Other suggestions have included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Hope and Raquel Welch.
- It would be very difficult to recognise a Neanderthal if you spotted one on the bus. If you dressed them up in modern day clothes, they would look very similar to modern humans. While we think of them as stupid, Neanderthals had religious rights, buried their dead and made ornaments. At one point we were one species but then Neanderthals and Homo sapiens broke away. Neanderthals lived in Europe four times longer than modern humans. Nobody knows why they went extinct. It is possible we out fought them or outsmarted them. Neanderthals were stronger than modern humans, and 1-4% of modern human DNA is Neanderthal so there is evidence to show we crossbred. Some people think Homo sapiens kept Neanderthals as sex slaves although it is possible it was the other way around. The word "Neanderthal" comes from the name of valley near Düsseldorf, Germany, where they were first discovered.
- XL: You might take a fossil into a night club to check it is real under the ultraviolet light. Some fake fossils are filled with plastic to make them look older than they really are, but you can tell how old a fossil is under UV light.
- The part of the human body which is evolving the quickest is the nose, which has changed the most over the past 10,000 years. We are not sure why.
- XL: The panel are asked what we may look like in the future. They are shown "cortical homunculae" of themselves, which is a drawing depicting which bits of the body are given the most brain power. The largest bits include the hands, ears, mouth, nose, eyes and genitalia. Cortical homunculus was the idea of Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield who found he could map the body like this after operating on epileptics. The human brain is the most complex thing in the universe, containing 100 billion neurons.
- XL: The panel are shown a picture of furless, wrinkled rodent and are asked if they would want to huddle up to one of them. The animal is a naked mole rat (which is not related to either the mole or the rat) and it huddles together for warmth. It is three inches long and lives underground. They live in a similar way to an ant colony containing around 300 such creatures, with a queen which is only one that can give birth, a harem of three males, and all the rest are diggers and workers. The reason for their nakedness may be because they live in stuffy burrows in Africa so the fur would make them too hot. Naked mole rats have had their genes sequenced and they have resistance to certain forms of cancer and they do not have Substance P with transmits pain. It is possible that naked mole rats could help develop pain killers that do no use opiates.
- "Hero syndrome" is when you do something terrible that you try to resolve in order to seem that you are a hero. For example, people will set fire to buildings and then enter them to rescue people. Common sufferers include fire fighters. In South Carolina between 1993-94 there were 47 seperate hero syndrome cases.
- The average human is worth about £400,000-£500,000. The flesh is worth about £100. In Moldova two women were arrested for selling human flesh charging £1.30 a kilo. The skin is worth £20 if you charged the same as cowhide. The transplantable organs are the most expensive. The corneas would be worth £4,000; the heart is £40,000; a kidney is worth between £10,000-£20,000; and the lungs are £75,000. There are also the chemical components. There are 10 gallons of water which is not worth much, enough carbon for a sack of coal, enough bone for a packet of bone meal fertiliser, quantities of salt, enough iron for a few nails, and 0.4 milligrams of gold worth about 8p.
- The point of teenagers is that they think differently from adult humans. For example, experiments show they have difficulty figuring out certain human expressions. Some argue that teenagers have the correct way of thinking and that adults just think more rationally.
- The fastest human runner of all time is T8. It is a fossilised footprint in Australia which shows someone capable of running at 23mph (and he was accelerating) while barefoot and in mud, so it seems like that if he wore proper footwear and had a running track he could run at 28mph, and it is possibly he was not the fastest in his tribe. Usain Bolt can run at 27mph with spiked running shoes. (Forfeit: Usain Bolt)
- XL: Saunas do not get rid of toxins. In fact, if you have a hangover it is a bad idea to enter a sauna because it dehydrates you even more. You could also lose a salt which is bad for you as well. The dehydration also causes you to lose weight. Boxers and jockeys use saunas for this reason.
- The panel are played the sound of a mosquito and are asked what disease it could give you. The answer is that it could give you yellow fever or Dengue fever. You never get malaria from a mosquito that buzzes. Mosquitoes normally bite the ankle. Over half the people who have ever lived have been killed by mosquitoes. However, if you wiped them out it would also be a bad thing because they are very good at pollinating. (Forfeit: Malaria)
- Friday 8th October 2010
- BBC One
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Justin Pollard||Question Writer|
|James Harkin||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Arron Ferster||Question Writer|
|David Morley (as Dave Morley)||Executive Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray (as Andy Murray)||Researcher|