How It Works

Sounds a bit fishy…

While we may have descended from cavemen and evolved from apes, an unusual source may be the cause of our hiccups: fish.

Neil Shubin, head of the University of Chicago’s Anatomy School, claims in his new book Your Inner Fish that our need to hiccup is ultimately due to our amphibian ancestory.

In his book, Shubin says: “Our tendency to develop hiccups is another influence of our past. There are two issues to think about. The first is what causes the spasm of nerves that initiates the hiccup. The second is what controls that distinctive hic, the abrupt inhalation–glottis closure. The nerve spasm is a product of our fish history, while the hic is an outcome of the history we share with animals such as tadpoles.”

It seems that some of our nerves have been inherited from fish. These can become irritated and trigger hiccups which result after a closing of the windpipe. This action is similar to the breathing motion of amphibians with lungs and gills, and it is to them we should give credit for the annoyance of the hiccup.




  • John Glasco

    Non sequitur.