Feeds

Why don't humans molt?

Shedding light on molting

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual 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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.