Back Pain and Evolution

Recently I read a short article about how the evolution of humans and the percent of DNA that we share with chimpanzees may be reasons that human are so prone to back pains. In this short article it talked about how there is new research being done on the vertebral shape and human spinal health. To understand this, the researchers decided to compare the spine and vertebrae of chimpanzees and archaeological human vertebrae. Their research showed that there was in fact a distinction between humans with those that had a specific feature shared with the chimpanzees and those that did not.

Now, it is believed that humans and chimpanzees split from a common ancestor about eight and nine million years ago. Yet during this research, focusing only on the spinal column and the vertebrae of both species, it was observed that a small hernia that can occur in the cartilaginous disc between the vertebrae of chimpanzees was also present in a percentage of archaeological human vertebrae. This characteristic is called a Schmorl’s node. This shows that even though we did split from a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, we still can find a common blueprint in our own DNA. You also have to remember that the human race and chimpanzees share about 94 percent common DNA.

In conclusion, this study hypothesized that the people who shared this common trait with chimpanzee vertebrae were more likely to have back pains and problems because their skeleton is less able to take the pressure of walking upright.

I think that it is really interesting to think about the similarities that we, as humans, have still yet to grow out of. When you think of evolution, you are amazed, because you can see how far we have come. You look at how we evolved to become bipeds, instead of using our hands to walk, and how we have developed extremely so cognitively. Yet, there are still very small evolutionary things that are holding us back and still hurting us today.

This makes me wonder about what other things we should have evolved out, yet still have for one reason or another. Maybe there are some organs or appendages that we do not need anymore? One thing that is no longer helpful is body hair that we as humans still tend to grow. Because we are civilized and have developed the tool of clothing, we do not necessarily need to grow hair on our body anymore, yet we still do. Are we done evolving, or are we still changing, even millions of years later?


If you would like to read this short article, here is the link