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What If Humans Could…

While teaching my biology classes I often find myself thinking about the functions of various critters and trying to imagine what it would be like if humans had these same behaviors. I’ll be exploring some of these mysteries in many blogs to come so keep your eyes peeled 😀

Today, we will visit the digestive system. More to the point, we will be comparing the digestive system of cows and humans and imaging what it would be like if mankind had the digestive system of cattle.



If you have ever seen a cow standing in a field you’ve seen the behavior known as “chewing the cud”. Not a very nice sounding phrase is it? And it’s quite the revolting process if you know what it is. To understand this we must first visit the anatomy of the cow. Many people mistakenly say that cows have four stomachs. This isn’t exactly true. What they do have is a stomach with four distinct sections: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and the abomasum. The grass first passes into the rumen where it is mixed with tons of bacteria that will aid in the digestive process. Breaking down the cellulose in plants is damn difficult which requires the cow to regurgitate the partially digested mass to chew on it some more *gag*. The reticulum looks like a honeycomb will soften the food further but it also has a second function: catching and holding foreign material. This can be deadly to the cow as this portion of the stomach sits close to the heart. The omasum has many sections and works to squeeze the water out of the food. The abomasum is the part that most resembles our stomach. It is acidic and contains enzymes to break down proteins. From here the food passes into the intestines and we all know how things end up.

Picture this: what if humans ate grass and had digestive systems like this? Can you imagine??? It would make the good-night kiss at the end of a date interesting…

Now let’s consider reproduction…

The process by which an entire human being is formed from a single cell is freaking fascinating. And terrifying. Sometimes being a biologist can really suck. We know the ways in which things can go catastrophically wrong. And yet, miraculously, most creatures are born with everything in the correct place.



Let’s suppose for a minute that rather than reproducing sexually we budded. Like a hydra.

HAHAHA! *snort*

Humans would have their offspring attached to them until they were adults and ready to survive on their own. At which point the newly formed offspring would break off the parent and go off on its merry little way. I bet if humans reproduced this way it would be GREAT birth control 😉

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3 Comments on “What If Humans Could…”

  1. Inion N. Mathair February 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    LOL. This was a great post, Shay… well apart from the regurgitating bit. 😉 Love your educational posts. They’re so fun and informative. I’m sure Mathair feels that way about reproducing. I’m well into my late twenties and have yet to fly the coop, (what with us being business partners, it’s far more productive to live together), though I’m sure there are times when we’re in our writing room, hours into editing with little to no sleep that she wishes she could shake me off. LOL.

    • drshaywest February 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      LOL Inion budding off Mathair…that could be an interesting story arc 😉


  1. Bodily Function I Wish I Could Get Rid Of | Dr. Shay West - April 9, 2015

    […] wants to propagate itself, the monthlies sort of have to happen. Better than the other option of budding. Now THAT would be way […]

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