Reading ecologist Professor Tom Oliver has written a new book, The Self Delusion, which explores how people, animals, plants and the planet we live on are all intimately connected – and why that matters. We’ve dug out some surprising science from the book which will make you re-think just how individual you are.
1. We’re only half human
Our bodies contain 37 trillion human cells, and roughly the same number of bacterial cells. Every surface of our bodies – from our faces to our armpits, from the insides of our mouths to the deepest depths of our guts – are covered in these microbes. We have over 1,000 bacterial species in our mouths, 440 in our elbow joints and 125 species behind our ears.
Prayer and good food were long thought to be the main cures for sickness used by medieval monks, but a new book by Professor Roberta Gilchrist shows that they had more sophisticated medical treatments at their fingertips – from preventative hygiene to prosthetics.