Feeds

Why don't humans molt?

Shedding light on molting

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

Why don't humans molt?

Asked by Lisa Blumfield, age 10, of New York City

Most people think birds molt and humans don't. That's because birds have feathers and humans have hairs. But humans do molt. We shed hairs and skin cells. Technically, that constitutes molting.

"Molting" means the periodic shedding of feathers, hairs, horns, nails, shells, and skins - any outer layer. Molt is from the Latin mutare meaning "to change".

Of course, how long is periodic? Although figures vary slightly between blondes, brunettes, and redheads, each of us carries an average of about five million hairs. About 100,000 to 150,000 of these hairs are located on the head. We lose an average of 50 to 100 hairs each day. If we comb and brush our hair we lose more hairs.

About 16 per cent of our body weight is skin. The body devotes between five to eight per cent of its metabolism to the maintenance of skin. Skin is composed of skin cells. When a skin cell dies, it is shed. The lifespan of a skin cells is roughly 35 days. At this rate, everyone gets a new skin a little more than about 10 times per year. Enjoying a normal lifespan to age 80, you will have acquired more than 800 skins. That's enough to make any bird envious.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.