Monday, 25 May 2009

Will humans get much taller?

saw this man stick out his neck
with his binoculars intact
He couldn't tell the right side of his brain
Had just lost all interest in his left...

> This Here Giraffe, by the Flaming Lips

An Australian diver has discovered a new seahorse near Derawan island off Kalimantan island in Indonesia:

 Hippocampus Satomiae

Nothing special about that you might think except that this seahorse -which has been named Hippocampus Satomiae after its discoverer Satomi Onishi - is no larger than a pea, with a length around 14mm and a height around 11.5mm.

By comparison, the world’s largest seahorse – according to Wikipedia – is the pot bellied seahorse with lengths of up to 35 cm (or about 25 times longer than the newly discovered Hippocampus Satomiae).

Now this sort of got me thinking – why the huge difference in sizes? After all, wouldn’t nature have found a sort of “optimum” size for seahorses?

And even more beguilingly, what about us humans? Is there any reason why we are between 5’5 to 6’5 feet tall and not, say, as short as dwarfs (although a small number of us are) or as tall as giraffes?

But that’s not to say we won’t ever reach the towering heights of a giraffe in the future. Because if you have ever entered a 200 year old house, you would have noticed just how low the doors are. Yep: we do seem to be getting taller and taller as the years go by – even if that growth is largely attributable to more protein packed diets.

As for the future, will the uptrend in human height continue?

Well, if it does, let’s just hope that the women don’t lag behind. Otherwise we’ll all be a lot worse off…

Related post: He Pingping vs. Svetlana Pankratova