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Things Yorams knows: Why do only humans have navels?

DK shares with us her wonder "How come dogs don't have navels like ours?"

Navel with piercing. Illustration:
Navel with piercing. Illustration:

A dog also has a navel, but it is less prominent. The navel is nothing but a scar that remains in the abdomen where we connected in our mother's womb to the placenta. From the moment we inhaled the first breath of air, the umbilical cord becomes unnecessary: ​​it is cut, the depleted remnant falls off about a week later, leaving the navel as a souvenir. This scar stretches inwards with 4 "strings" - fibrous connective tissues which are the remains of the piping that led from our fetal body to the placenta: the two placental arteries and the placental vein and the urachus is the remnant of the tube that drained the fetal bladder out. 

In this we share with all placenta owners among mammals including the dog and the cat. And yet there is something special about the human Korkan and our relationship to it. Despite the lack of use, the navel is one of the first body parts that babies learn to call by name. The earliest figurines found by archaeologists are figurines of women that are about 25,000 years old - primitive figures, poor in detail, very far from anatomical accuracy, yet even the artists of the Stone Age did not give up the navel. 

Criteria for a beautiful navel were formulated in classical Greek and Roman sculpture and have been kept unchanged since then. In the center of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is painted one of the peaks of human art: Michelangelo's Creation of Man. A person who has just been created from the dust receives the spirit of life from God and on his belly, although he has not left the womb and has not attached to the placenta, a navel is attached. It is impossible to suspect the artist or the person who commissioned the work, Pope Julius II, of biblical ignorance, except that the navel is such an important element in the image of the human body that it could not be given up without losing the humanity of our ancestor. A theological debate has been going on for centuries around the navel issue of Adam and Eve. On the one hand, since they were not born and were not attached to the placenta, it is guaranteed that they did not have an umbilical cord. On the other hand, it is emphasized in Genesis that our image is the "image of God" meaning that the body represents a divine pattern and it can be concluded from this that not only the first man but also the Creator flaunts the navel. In 1646, the English scholar Sir Thomas Browne stated that Adam and Eve were without a navel and a scholarly ecclesiastical treatise published in 1752 confirmed this statement. However, there were those who insisted that God created the image of man from dust with a navel in his belly, meaning that there is no deviation from the image of the first Adam. Most artists did not delve into theology but bypassed the issue by choosing a point of view in which the navel is hidden.

Adam's navel was used by Philip Henry Gosse, one of the first creationists of Darwin's generation, as a starting point for a seemingly absurd idea: a world that was created in six days less than 7.000 years ago and contains fossils of ancient creatures. The navel and, like it, the sutures of the skull bone are "fossilized" in the adult body from its embryonic stage. A reading of the story of Genesis reveals that the trees were created on Thursday when they were mature "and the fruit of the earth is grass that sows its kind of seed and a tree bears fruit in which it is sown." A mature tree must contain within it growth rings - "fossils" left by the previous years of growth. Fossils of this kind are an essential part of every mature individual - animal or plant. Remnants of what never existed are essential to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden - an ecosystem that functioned from the moment it was created, that is, it contained the decomposition products of biological material that was never created (because there is no ecosystem without decomposition products, that is, the remains of creatures from the past). Thus the navel of the first Adam, as well as dinosaur fossils are not oddities that disprove the story of creation but on the contrary: a planned sudden creation of the animal world by the hands of an almighty God requires the invention of relics from eras that never existed.    

In light of the centrality of the navel in our body shape, it is surprising to discover that in our best friend and in the vast majority of mammals, the navel is very difficult to identify. Even if we look at the bald bellies of large mammals such as dolphins, elephants or leviathans, we will have a very hard time finding a male navel there. Biologist Mark Cengizi challenges the common perception of the navel as an insignificant scar: the baby's body knows how to heal wounds without rough scars and our body undergoes major changes from the shedding of the umbilical cord without leaving such noticeable marks. Suffice it to mention the embryonic tailbone that disappears and leaves behind smooth skin. Dents and folds are places prone to accumulation of infection and we would expect that nature knew how to smooth out this scar in us just as it is ironed out in the dog of Dr. Hatat Ha'in.

In the opinion of some researchers, the visible navel is the result of evolutionary pressures of sexual selection - the navel is a kind of natural jewel intended for the eyes of a potential partner. The skin around the navel is equipped with apocrine sweat glands like in the armpits and other scent centers in the body: glands that in addition to salt water also secrete proteins and volatile substances and one can perhaps have fun speculating about a role in ancient smell communication at some stage of the evolutionary journey. According to this hypothesis, several developments in our history combined to raise the stakes of the navel: the transition to upright walking exposed the abdomen to curious looks, the thinning of body hair and color vision which turned skin tones into subjects of important information about the physical condition of our friends.

Reinforcing the idea of ​​the sexual bait in the navel is the almost universal link between the navel and erotic attraction. Already in our Song of Songs, just before the gaze is turned to the "two of the two of the twin goats" he surveys the navel (prevailing in biblical language) "Sharrekh agan ha-sahar, al-yehsar ha-mzeg; A pile of thorns in the garden, kind of like roses". Today, belly shirts that expose the belly button are as eye-catching as generous cleavages. The navel stars as the "hammer" organ, and is the most pierced by piercing enthusiasts of all parts of the body south of the nose.

Even if standing upright and shedding the fur exposed the navel, what advantage would be gained by those who use it as a criterion for choosing a spouse? Aki Sinkkonen, suggests seeing the navel as a kind of hard-to-fake quality mark for the state of health and nutrition. The size of the navel and its shape are determined by the shape of the tube that was connected to it when we were fetuses. An abnormal umbilical cord in thickness or shape will flow less oxygen and food to the developing fetus and will leave behind a small or deformed umbilical cord that will signal the problem. A symmetrical and normal navel indicates that we received good growing conditions during the most critical period. Plastic surgeons are the only doctors who, following the demands of clients, show an interest in this scar and it turns out that there is definitely an ideal female navel that can be drawn: it is vertical or in the shape of the letter T, almost flat, symmetrical and surrounded by a fold of skin between 1.5 and 2 centimeters in diameter. This form is typical of young women of normal weight, except that the navel and the folds of skin around it move with the entire abdomen. In those who suffer from malnutrition, the navel will stick out and its shape changes with age, weight and pregnancies. A symmetrical navel, the "right" size was perhaps an easy sign to identify for health, proper nutrition and young age: qualities worth looking for in a partner. These are, of course, rather wild speculations. The very idea that there is a connection between the shape of the navel and the quality of placental blood circulation has never been tested, and there are those who see the publication of this hypothesis as an example of the speculative and unreliability of evolutionary psychology in general. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that we and our relatives the chimpanzees are distinguished not only by developed brains but also by a rare abdominal decoration.  

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8 תגובות

  1. The word "Sharar" is almost identical to the Arabic word سررة (note the double emphasis - field, above the letter ر ر) which means navel. I am not aware of the use of the root SRR for a female genital in any Semitic language. I would love to expand my education.

  2. Neither fact nor shoes. Not only is breast fat storage not unique to women (compared to men), it is also not unique to humans.
    Next, activate one of the two cells in your brain before you react.

  3. The idea that "your root" is the navel is a very common mistake. It is about a vagina, no less. Let's not forget that this is about "sorrach the basin of the crescent", the reason they interpreted it as a navel - because it's not pleasant...

  4. To say that it is an unnecessary part of the body does not make any sense at all,

  5. The misinformed title is the only reason I entered this article, out of curiosity about human stupidity. The article in Hali met the expectation. Thank you.

  6. Regarding the paintings of the navel in Adam and Eve - there is no need to be surprised. Most painters also draw the snake without legs, even in the temptation stage, which was still supposed to have legs.

  7. "And yet there is something special about the human kurkaban and our relationship to it" - kurkaban is known as the popular name for the muscle stomach in poultry (and others) and therefore suggests replacing this word in the article because it is a linguistic mistake.

  8. The story with the navel and evolutionary psychology is related to the fact that only human females store fat in the chest to create a prominent chest. Apparently there are things in his body.

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