Gargling uvula—no, it’s not an alien from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it’s a description of that little fleshy speed bag in the back of your mouth thrashing around like a beached shark as you hold liquid in your throat and exhale simultaneously. And now, thanks to The Slow Mo Guys, we have a super slow-motion look at exactly how the little seldom-thought-about appendage behaves when you rinse out with mouthwash in the morning.
According to host Gavin Free, the video was made because he said he thought “it might look interesting,” adding, “I really want to see if we can see some rippling in [co-host Daniel Gruchy’s] uvula.” Just as Free predicts, the video is “fascinatingly gross,” showing off Gruchy’s uvula undulating around, whipping liquid in all directions like the tiny tongue of a desperately parched puppy in front of its water bowl. The bits around 1:15 and 1:45 are especially mesmerizing, as we not only get a look at the uvula in bathing action, but also some Predator-like growling as well as some slapping sounds that are as hilarious as they are disturbing.
As for the muscle itself, the palatine uvula (often shortened to just “uvula”) is “a conic projection from the posterior edge of the middle of the soft palate, composed of connective tissue containing a number of racemose glands, and some muscular fibers.” And although it’s considered to be useful both as a salivary gland and for modulating airflow in spoken language, scientists are still generally uncertain as to why it developed evolutionarily. Not only can it be procedurally “remodeled” with little side effect in what is known as a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, it can also be cosmetically pierced. It’s also not generally considered to be an atavism, because, according to edutainment site HowStuffWorks “a survey of the animal kingdom found that the only other animals that have a uvula are baboons, and theirs aren’t nearly as developed as humans’…”
This slow-mo video is just the tip of the muscular conic projection, however. Not only are we unsure why the uvula exists, but Free also calls for mathematically inclined viewers to figure out the frequency of its thrashing. Which is good, because it seems like the more we know about this alien-looking thing, the better.
What do you think about this video of a gargling uvula? Are you fascinated by the footage, or is this slow-mo close-up of a wiggling flesh bulb going to haunt your dreams for the next several days? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image: The Slow Mo Guys