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838 The Wild Life of our Bodies 12/10/2011

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How other species have shaped human biology

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838 The Wild Life of our Bodies  12/10/2011

838 The Wild Life of our Bodies 12/10/2011

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Thousands of years ago (and more), human beings co-existed with a wide range of other species that lived around us and even on our skin and in our bodies. They helped shape our biology, and their effects can still be seen in our health. The appendix, for example, long thought to be a useless vestige with no function, appears to serve as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria that help keep the immune system tuned up. According to the hygiene hypothesis, the absence of parasitic worms from today’s humans may predispose some people to allergies or autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

Genome sequencing has revealed the presence of a whole lot more bacteria on our skin, in our bodies and around our homes than we ever dreamed possible. How does this crowd affect our health?

Guest: Rob Dunn, PhD, is associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University. He has written for National Geographic, Natural History, Scientific American, BBC Wildlife, and Seed magazine. His most recent book is The Wild Life of our Bodies.
To participate in his study the website is
You can learn more at

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for six weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date Dec 10, 2011

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