Length of a Human Intestine

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Kraus, David. Concepts of Modern Biology. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Globe Book Company, 1993. "The small intestine in adults is a long and narrow tube about 7 meters (23 feet) long. The large intestine is so called because it is wide in diameter. However, it is shorter than the small intestine - only about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long." 8.5 meters
(whole intestine)
Intestine, Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2007. "In humans the intestine is divided into two major sections: the small intestine, which is about 6 m (20 ft) long,...; and the large intestine, which has a larger diameter and is about 1.5 m (5 ft) long,..." 7.5 meters
(whole intestine)
Landois, Leonard, & William Stirling. Textbook of Human Physiology. P. Blakiston, 1889. "The human intestine is ten times longer than the length of the body,... It's minimum length is 507, its maximum length 1194 centimeters (17 to 35 feet);..." 5.2 - 10.7 meters
(whole intestine)
Flint, Austin. A Text-book of Human Physiology. D. Appleton and Company, 1888. "The length of the small intestine, according to Gray, is about twenty feet (6.1 meters);..." 6.1 meters
(small intestine)
Intestine, Wikipedia, 28 May 2007. "Grayish-purple in color and about one and a half inches (35 mm) in diameter, the small intestine is the first and longest, measuring twenty feet on average in an adult man." 7.6 meters
(whole intestine)
"Shorter and relatively stockier, the large intestine is a dark reddish color, measuring four feet and ten inches (1.5 m) on average."

When food enters your body, it goes through the digestive system so that your body can absorb nutrients from the food. The digestive system begins with the mouth and is followed by the pharynx, the esophagus, and the intestine, which is divided into two major sections: the small intestine and the large intestine.

The small intestine is a long and narrow tube about 6 to 7 meters (20 to 23 feet) long. Food completes its chemical decomposition in which a compound is split into other compounds by reacting with water in the small intestine with the help of the liver, pancreas, and intestinal glands who pour their secretions into it. In the small intestine, there are an enormous number of tiny projections called villi, which absorb the end products of digestion. Villi and folds in the walls of the small intestine cover the lining and greatly increases the surface for absorption, which contributes to the length of the small intestine. The human small intestine has a surface area about ten times greater than the skin surface.

The large intestine is wide in diameters but shorter than the small intestine. It is only about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long. There is no decomposition of food in the large intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine break down any quantity of proteins that have not been completely digested. The large intestine is mostly used to store feces or waste, which consists of 10 to 50 percent of bacteria, undigested cellulose of plant cell walls, minerals, and water. This is then eliminated through the anus.

Therefore, the length of the entire human intestine can range from 7.5 to 8.5 meters (25 to 28 feet).

Stephanie Kim -- 2007

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Curtis, Helen. Barnes, N. Fifth Edition Biology. Worth, 1999: 544. "Consider the human lung, constantly expanding and contracting in the chest cavity, or the 6 or 7 meters of coiled human intestine; neither of these could have evolved before the coelom." 6–7 m
(whole intestine)
"Intestine." World Book Encyclopedia Millennium 2000. Chicago: World Book, 2000: 353. "The large intestine is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and is made up of the cecum; the ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid portions of the colon; and the rectum." 1.5 m
(large intestine)
Avraham, Regina. The Digestive System. Chelsea House, 2000: 52. "It [the small intestine] is about 18 to 21 feet long and has a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches." 5.5–6.4 m
(small intestine)
Gray, Henry. The Anatomy of the Human Body. Lea & Febinger, 1985: 1478. "The large intestine extends from the ileum to the anus. It is about 1.5 meters long, being one-fifth of the whole extent of the intestinal canal." 1.5 m
(large intestine)
"Intestine." Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1999: 323. "The small intestine is about 23 feet (7 meters) long and consists of three subdivisions." 7.0 m
(small intestine)

The human intestine is a necessary part of the digestive system. The human digestive system consists of the mouth, the throat (pharynx), the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine. Specifically, the human intestine consists of two parts, the small intestine and the large intestine.

The small intestine is a long, narrow, coiled tube extending from the stomach to the large intestine. This is the place where most digestion and absorption of food takes place. The small intestine of a human can be as long as six to eight meters long, depending on age and size of being. So much length can be compacted into so little space because of the nature of the small intestine; it is coiled and takes up less space, while maintaining it's enormous surface area.

The large intestine is the posterior or end of the human intestine that consists of four regions the, the cecum, the colon, the rectum and the anal canal. The large intestine is wider but shorter than the small intestine. It measures approximately 1.5 meters in length and its primary function is to absorb water and electrolytes that have already passed unabsorbed through the small intestine.

In mathematics, as well as physics, the value of the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Therefore the average length of the human intestine is equal to the length of the small intestine added to the length of the large intestine. As a result the average length of the human intestine can be anywhere from 6 to 8.5 meters in length depending on size and age of the person it occupies.

Anne Marie Thomasino -- 2001


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