Your Inner Fish - Hiccups

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inner fish.jpgNeil Shubin, author of “Your Inner Fish” can be heard discussing the fascinating story of evolution.

Shubin discusses a variety of strong evidences that support our common ancestry, one in particular caught my eye/ear.

Hiccups…

Richard Dawkins’ site has an article (reposted form The University of Chicago Magazine which explains the link between hiccups and our ‘inner fish’.

First of all, hiccups are shared amongst mammals

If there is any consolation for getting hiccups, it is that our misery is shared with many other mammals. Cats can be stimulated to hiccup by sending an electrical impulse to a small patch of tissue in their brain stem. This area of the brain stem is thought to be the center that controls the complicated reflex that we call a hiccup. The hiccup reflex is a stereotyped twitch involving a number of muscles in our body wall, diaphragm, neck, and throat. A spasm in one or two of the major nerves that control breathing causes these muscles to contract. This results in a very sharp inspiration of air. Then, about 35 milliseconds later, a flap of tissue in the back of our throat (the glottis) closes the top of our airway. The fast inhalation followed by a brief closure of the tube produces the “hic.”

So how does the hiccup links us to our common ancestor? The story is fascinating

Our tendency to develop hiccups is another influence of our past. There are two issues to think about. The first is what causes the spasm of nerves that initiates the hiccup. The second is what controls that distinctive hic, the abrupt inhalation–glottis closure. The nerve spasm is a product of our fish history, while the hic is an outcome of the history we share with animals such as tadpoles.

Nerves and our inner fish

Shubin points out how the arrangement of the nerves which stimulate breathing in fish, cause an unfortunate side effect in mammals.

The problem is that the brain stem originally controlled breathing in fish; it has been jerry-rigged to work in mammals. Sharks and bony fish all have a portion of the brain stem that regulates the rhythmic firing of muscles in the throat and around the gills. The nerves that control these areas all originate in a well-defined portion of the brain stem. We can even see this nerve arrangement in some of the most primitive fish in the fossil record. Ancient ostracoderms, from rocks over 400 million years old, preserve casts of the brain and cranial nerves. Just as in living fish, the nerves that control breathing extend from the brain stem.

However, the nerves leave the brain at the same place as they do in fish but they have to travel further down to our diaphragm.

This convoluted path creates problems; a rational design would have the nerves traveling not from the neck but from somewhere nearer the diaphragm. Unfortunately, anything that interferes with one of these nerves can block their function or cause a spasm.

Pattern generators and amphibians

As Shubin pointed out earlier, the hiccup itself is an outcome of a history we share with amphibians. While in humans, the hiccup is mostly an annoyance (vestigial?), in tad poles, which have both lungs and gills, the hiccup is used to breathe with their gills. What a wonderful example of a living ‘transitional fossil’.

It turns out that the pattern generator responsible for hiccups is virtually identical to one in amphibians. And not in just any amphibians—in tadpoles, which use both lungs and gills to breathe. Tadpoles use this pattern generator when they breathe with gills. In that circumstance, they want to pump water into their mouth and throat and across the gills, but they do not want the water to enter their lungs. To prevent it from doing so, they close the glottis, the flap that closes off the breathing tube. And to close the glottis, tadpoles have a central pattern generator in their brain stem so that an inspiration is followed immediately by a closing glottis. They can breathe with their gills thanks to an extended form of hiccup.

The parallels between our hiccups and gill breathing in tadpoles are so extensive that many have proposed that the two phenomena are one and the same. Gill breathing in tadpoles can be blocked by carbon dioxide, just like our hiccups. We can also block gill breathing by stretching the wall of the chest, just as we can stop hiccups by inhaling deeply and holding our breath. Perhaps we could even block gill breathing in tadpoles by having them drink a glass of water upside down.

122 Comments

As just a slight sidetrack from this interesting update, some folks might recall that I sent a copy of Shubin’s book to Beverly Slough, one of the members of the St. Johns County, FL school board who spoke out against the new evolution standard on the basis that there was no evidence of a transition of fish to humans.

I’ve since gotten a couple of emails from Ms. Slough, the last one just last night. She’s just gotten back from a family vacation and has started reading Your Inner Fish. She has been quite courteous and has said that she is willing share her thoughts on the book with me when she’s done reading it.

Who knows; when all is said and done, there may just be some documented evidence that Shubin’s work has induced the intellectual evolution of at least one Creationist. I’ll update with any developments when and if there are some to talk about.

We can also block gill breathing by stretching the wall of the chest, just as we can stop hiccups by inhaling deeply and holding our breath.

I picked up the tip to take a deep breath and hold it to stop hiccups ages ago in some magazine. I can personally vouch for the efficacy of the method. It works very very well. At most I get one or two more when I am holding the breath and it stops. On very rare occasions I had to repeat holding the breath. But never knew there was a scientific explanation for it. Very interesting.

Now waiting for the reason why air flows out of the inner ears through the Eustachian tubes easily, (but as the airplane lands,) it refuses to let the air back in to equalize the pressure. Very painful, till I can finally walk out of the airplane. Then these jarring created by walking somehow lets the air in, and with an audible woosh sound, the pain goes away. Tugging the ear lobes,chewing gum, trying to blow the nostrils while keeping them closed… nothing helps me.

Mike,

Well done! If only most antievolutionists were that willing to engage in dialogue like that.

Nothing like a ‘teachable moment’. At least once each year a student has ‘the hiccups’ during class. They almost always want to know how to stop them; and many students chime in with the predictable and mostly effective solutions “drink a glass of water”, “hold your breath and count to 30”, “breath into a bag”. Often students will ask “what causes the hiccups”? The usual answer: “a spasm in the diaphragm and chest wall”. With no objection from Paul Harvey, “and now, the rest of the story”.

I wouldn’t expect too much honest response from Ms. Slough. In fact I would predict that her responses will very closely match that of the DI.

Wow. I just got the book for my birthday. Can’t wait to read it!

While we think of creationists as those that deny science, there are also those that accept science but also believe in gods actions.

Perhaps this lady will come to understand St. Augustine’s warning. for today most creationists look silly and stupid.

PVM asks rhetorically So how does the hiccup links us to our common ancestor? The story is fascinating…

Wow, another story. If only it were illustrated with moths glued to tree trunks or embryos. Opps just checked, it is illustrated. Nice art work.

Neil Shubin is quoted:

The reason for this absurd route lies in our developmental and evolutionary history. Our gonads begin their development in much the same place as a shark’s: up near our livers. As they grow and develop, our gonads descend. In females the ovaries descend from the midsection to lie near the uterus and fallopian tubes. This ensures that the egg does not have far to travel to be fertilized. In males the descent goes farther.

Sound like a variation of Haeckel’s embryo arguments for evolution.

Nothing like a ‘teachable moment’. At least once each year a student has ‘the hiccups’ during class.

Adapting a story to fit newly discovered and admittedly misunderstood coincidences is not scientific theory; it is conspiracy theory–not even a very good one. And using the hiccups as an excuse to teach about religion should not be allowed–especially if you introduce snarks against what you believe to be an imaginary “perfect designer”.

And, love this:

In a perfectly designed world—one with no history—we would not have to suffer everything from hemorrhoids to cancer.

What passes for reasoning in the world of evolutionists boggles the mind. Cars are not designed because they rust and allow themselves to collide. Photocopiers that distort images were not designed since they introduce noise.

So William Wallace admits that inferior design in humans and other organisms is evidence for an inferior Creator, not the infallible one despicted in traditional Biblical dogma? Nice to see that!

The rest of his post is just B.S.

Dale Husband:

So William Wallace admits that inferior design in humans and other organisms is evidence for an inferior Creator, not the infallible one despicted in traditional Biblical dogma? Nice to see that!

The rest of his post is just B.S.

Correction, Dale, the rest of his post is mean-spirited B.S.

Wow Mr. Wallace.

Shubin’s example is a case of a complex suite of characters that on the surface are mysteriously intertwined, but can be easily and elegantly understood in the context of evolution – especially when considering the details of comparative anatomy, neuroanatomy, physiology and even the fossil record. Obviously, though, you have studied this issue in great depth. So before you cast any more aspersions, perhaps you would like to expound on how your model provides greater understanding, or is more consistent with the evidence?

While we are at it, could you also explain what you personally would have done given the task of illustrating how the variable coloration of peppered moths impacts their visibility against different natural backgrounds? Then, having done that, please explain how the use of an illustration of moth coloration impacts the results of the multitudinous studies on the moths? And please, instead of citing Johnston and Wells’ stuff, refer to the actual studies themselves.

Gill breathing in tadpoles can be blocked by carbon dioxide, just like our hiccups.

Fascinating!

This explains something I never understood. I knew about stretching the muscles in the chest walls, but I didn’t know carbon dioxide had anything to do with it.

When I was on a diesel-electric sub in the Navy (before the nuclear subs took over the load), I would often get the hiccups after bolting a meal before going on watch or eating on the run during intense operations. The stretching worked.

During those times we were hiding submerged and running ultra-quiet for extended periods, carbon dioxide would build up to where we had to spread a CO2 absorbent (lithium hydroxide) to prevent too large a build-up. One could always tell when the CO2 level was high because you could feel your heart pounding in your chest, and a match wouldn’t stay lit.

However, during those times, I never once experienced hiccups. Now I know why.

Dale Husband:

So William Wallace admits that inferior design in humans and other organisms is evidence for an inferior Creator, not the infallible one despicted in traditional Biblical dogma? Nice to see that!

The rest of his post is just B.S.

So Dale Husband resorts to inventing admissions as well as words (despicted). Yawn.

So, then, Mr Wallace, can you address and answer mplavcan’s questions, too, or are you going to conveniently ignore them because you are physically incapable of comprehending them?

What passes for reasoning in the world of evolutionists boggles the mind. Cars are not designed because they rust and allow themselves to collide. Photocopiers that distort images were not designed since they introduce noise.

In other words, the designer of life was a shoddy designer at best?

Wow, another story. If only it were illustrated with moths glued to tree trunks or embryos. Opps just checked, it is illustrated. Nice art work.

What’s your problem with the peppered moth story which has recently been found to be correct after taking into consideration the various objections to Kettlewell’s excellent studies. As far as embryos, I guess you are still being fooled by the ignorance of the Discovery Institute’s assertions.

How sad

William Wallace:

Dale Husband:

So William Wallace admits that inferior design in humans and other organisms is evidence for an inferior Creator, not the infallible one despicted in traditional Biblical dogma? Nice to see that!

The rest of his post is just B.S.

So Dale Husband resorts to inventing admissions as well as words (despicted). Yawn.

Furthermore, Dale Husband did not make anything up: because of your mean-spirited strawman fallacies and ignorant ridicule, you infer that God either is capable of producing flawless organisms, but deliberately created flawed organisms or is only capable of producing flawed organisms.

Unless, of course, you can give a scientific explanation for why there are flaws in biological systems… Can you, or are you only capable of ridiculing people who do not deign to share your dim and narrow view of the world?

Adapting a story to fit newly discovered and admittedly misunderstood coincidences is not scientific theory; it is conspiracy theory–not even a very good one. And using the hiccups as an excuse to teach about religion should not be allowed–especially if you introduce snarks against what you believe to be an imaginary “perfect designer”.

You troll :-)

But just for those interested in the science involved, the hiccup shows two excellent links between a present day nuissance and the evolutionary history, as evidenced in fishes and amphibians. Of course ID proponents should really have no problem with the fact of common descent which most seem to accept. And for good reasons, it is an extremely well supported fact. As for calling teaching about science, a religion, I am sure that you are confusing science with the nonsense proposed by ID creationists.

PvM:

Wow, another story. If only it were illustrated with moths glued to tree trunks or embryos. Opps just checked, it is illustrated. Nice art work.

What’s your problem with the peppered moth story which has recently been found to be correct after taking into consideration the various objections to Kettlewell’s excellent studies. As far as embryos, I guess you are still being fooled by the ignorance of the Discovery Institute’s assertions.

How sad

Mr Wallace was taught that flaunting one’s ignorance apparently makes God happy, especially since he didn’t get the numerous memos concerning how the reason why the peppered moths were deliberately pinned to various treetrunks in the first place was to give people a visual demonstration of the moths’ camouflage.

PS, William Wallace commented on the Cambrian thread in which O’Leary made her usual ill informed claims about Charles Walcott. I assume that he believes what O’Leary stated in the thread? Would he be interested in pursuing the real story?

Consider it a challenge to see if ID proponents are really interested in teaching the truth.

William Wallace:

Dale Husband:

So William Wallace admits that inferior design in humans and other organisms is evidence for an inferior Creator, not the infallible one despicted in traditional Biblical dogma? Nice to see that!

The rest of his post is just B.S.

So Dale Husband resorts to inventing admissions as well as words (despicted). Yawn.

What inventing? I just took your line of reasoning and followed it. Too bad you don’t dare follow it yourself. It outright denies the perfection and absolute foresight required of the traditional Creator of the Bible, and instead results in one that is no better than us. Even if there is an Intelligent Designer, he is really an idiot, if we take the designs of most life forms as proof of his work. The forces of natural selection, which have no foresight and is prone to doing what happens to work regardless of the actual best possible design, explain life on Earth. Cars and photocopiers cannot reproduce themselves, and thus cannot be subject to natural selection like life forms can. Thus it is pointless to compare inventions of man to anything living.

(ignoring Willy Wally the BTI):

Maybe that explains the “breath into a bag” strategy, too: increase local CO2 levels by rebreathing.

Stanton:

…you infer that God either is capable of producing flawless organisms, but deliberately created flawed organisms or is only capable of producing flawed organisms…

Those are the only two choices I have?

See false dilemma under logical fallacies.

PVM:

…William Wallace commented on the Cambrian thread in which O’Leary made her usual ill informed claims about Charles Walcott. I assume that he believes what O’Leary stated in the thread? Would he be interested in pursuing the real story?

Sure. I presume you know how to contact me.

William Wallace

For the amusement of my fellow supporters of evolution, I submit this rediculous statement by Creationist Kurt Wise:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/doc[…]asp?vPrint=1

(((The evidence from Scripture is by far the best evidence for creation. No better evidence can be imagined than that provided from Him who is not only the only eyewitness observer, but who also is the embodiment of all truth. All Christians should be content in His claims for creation. There are those, however, who reject the authority of the Scriptures.

I believe that the best extra-biblical evidence for creation would come from the design of organisms past and present. The schizochroal compound eye of the trilobite (a horseshoe crab-like organism of the past), for example, contains the only known lens in the biological world which corrects for focusing problems that result from using non-flexible lenses. The designs of the schizochroal lenses, in fact, are the very same designs that man himself has developed to correct for the same problems. Furthermore, the design of the schizochroal eye combines this optimum focusing capability with the optimum sensitivity to motion provided by the compound eye as well as the stereoscopic (3-D) vision provided by closely spaced eyes.

The design of the schizochroal eye makes it unique among eyes; perhaps even to the point of being the best optical system known in the biological world. This design, in fact, seems to far exceed the needs of the trilobite. The origin of the design of the schizochroal eye is not understood by means of any known natural cause. Rather, it is best understood as being due to an intelligent (design-creating) cause, through a process involving remarkably high manipulative ability. Among available hypotheses, creation by God is the most reasonable hypothesis for the origin of the complexity of the trilobite’s schizochroal eye.)))

I tore him apart here: http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/dis[…]amp;posts=11

It’s amazing how someone could earn a Ph.D, even study under Stephen Jay Gould, and still be an absolute idiot!

William Wallace:

Stanton:

…you infer that God either is capable of producing flawless organisms, but deliberately created flawed organisms or is only capable of producing flawed organisms…

Those are the only two choices I have?

See false dilemma under logical fallacies.

Good point, WW! One could also infer that there is no Creator at all!

Want to go there? LOL!!!!

PVM:

…William Wallace commented on the Cambrian thread in which O’Leary made her usual ill informed claims about Charles Walcott. I assume that he believes what O’Leary stated in the thread? Would he be interested in pursuing the real story?

Sure. I presume you know how to contact me.

William Wallace

Excellent. I am just about working my way through the various relevant manuscripts.

O’Leary suggests, based on the claims by another author, that Walcott somehow burried the fossils from the Burgess Shale because they disagreed with Darwinian theory.

Do you agree with her position?

Well, he mentioned his spectacular find in Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, a publication read by few people. And then he put them in drawers and left them there. They did not receive the attention they deserved for eighty years.

Many people have tried to understand and explain why Walcott ignored the significance of his Cambrian fossils, but the most likely reason is that the fossils were not what he had expected to see. He ignored them in order to preserve a belief system.

and

No, because there was a problem. The problem was that the find obviously did not support Darwin’s theory of evolution:

Time to expose the truth. Ready?

and while you’re at it, would you like to correct your story about sternberg?

An investigation by the United States Office of Special Council uncovered emails by Smithsonian scientists indicating that they had been conspiring with the official sounding National Center for Science Education (NCSE)—which is actually an evolutionist activist group out of Berkley, California—to out the normally anonymous peer reviewers and find ex post facto cause to terminate Richard Sternberg.

Did you read the emails in question? Care to support your claims?

You are obviously a fellow Christian who seems to believe the nonsense spouted by the Discovery Institute and its ‘fellows’. Would it concern you if you were to find out that the real story is often quite a bit different?

Check this out:

http://blog.coincidencetheories.com/?p=27

Here William Wallace repeats the old Creationist lie that teaching evolution was somehow responsible for what the Nazis did.

Imagine that! “We evolved from apelike creatures via natural selection, therefore we must exterminate Jews, make war on our neighbors, and live under absolute tyranny!”

Nope! That’s nonsense, like the things WW posted right here!

Pretty sad to see how my fellow Christians make fools of themselves so easily.

Dale Husband:

Check this out:

http://blog.coincidencetheories.com/?p=27

Here William Wallace repeats the old Creationist lie that teaching evolution was somehow responsible for what the Nazis did.

Imagine that! “We evolved from apelike creatures via natural selection, therefore we must exterminate Jews, make war on our neighbors, and live under absolute tyranny!”

Nope! That’s nonsense, like the things WW posted right here!

I’m putting forth the hypothesis of why William Wallace chose not to answer my question,

Unless, of course, you can give a scientific explanation for why there are flaws in biological systems… Can you, or are you only capable of ridiculing people who do not deign to share your dim and narrow view of the world?

is because he is physically incapable of answering it.

I’m also guessing that Mr Wallace’s sole purpose here is to ridicule everyone who does not support his dim and narrow world view in order to stroke his own ego, as with all the other creationist trolls who visit here.

Dale Husband Wrote:

Here William Wallace repeats the old Creationist lie that teaching evolution was somehow responsible for what the Nazis did.

Seeing the rage and hatred coming out of trolls like Wallace makes me think that theocrats like him would be far worse than Hitler if they ever got control of secular power. This character is really psycho.

You know, for an outsider it is really interesting to see the creotards kicking and screaming against every new evidence of evolution in biology, then inevitably do a back flip when the evidence is accepted to point out that a new line of traits means there are even more “gaps” to consider.

I think the back flip too is an evolutionary remain from social herding - it should be called “follow the leader” or possibly “appeal to the mob”.

One could always tell when the CO2 level was high because you could feel your heart pounding in your chest, and a match wouldn’t stay lit.

However, during those times, I never once experienced hiccups. Now I know why.

So you are saying that carbon dioxide blocked hiccups is an example of old sub standard design?

[/ducks]

Timothy E. Kennelly said:

These claims are problematic for the obvious reason that if there is a God, then we can not pretend to know what limits God in creation or in anything else. The suggestion that God might “poof up any material” may or may not be correct; in short, such a claim should not be made.

And there’s another interesting issue here in that it is playing both sides of the fence. The actions of the Designer necessarily fall into one of two categories:

FIRST: The Design events actually conform to natural law. If so, then there’s no basis to objection to a scientific explanation of matters, and incidentally the Designer becomes excess baggage in the scientific explanation.

Of course, the response is that the current scientific explanation is wrong and a better one is required. OK, that’s claiming that if pigs had wings, they could fly. No objections to that, just show us a winged pig, we’ll be glad to see if it can fly.

SECOND: The Design events do not conform to natural law, they are miraculous, “supernatural”, meaning outside the laws of nature – not just as we understand them now, but forever unexplainable violations of what we now and will ever know about the orderly operation of the Universe. In other words: “Poof!”

Now while “Poof!” can’t be ruled out, it has a number of problems, in that it is by definition unexplainable – which means the sciences can’t say much about it – not to mention unduplicable and unverifiable. There’s also the problem that we’ve never seen a validated case of “Poof!” in any context.

Creationists like to waffle between these two options, playing off “pigs with wings” with “Poof!” However, if anyone tries to say that creationists – YEC/OEC/ID, doesn’t matter – don’t really mean “Poof!” and are just trying to muddy the waters using “pigs with wings”, then the polite answer is: “I don’t believe that.”

This is DonExodus from youtube. Try: 1. Swallowing. This works 99.999% of the time. 2. Sudafed. 3. A 2nd generation histamine blocker, such as claratin. 4. Wasabi.

Hope this helps, as an avid scuba diver, I share your pain!

Whit

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 24, 2008 12:00 PM.

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