Feeds

Why don't humans molt?

Shedding light on molting

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.