Appendix, a vestigial organ?

One of the evidence of evolution is vestigial organs. In this regard, appendix is one of the most often quoted example for humans. While exploring the subject of human appendix on Scientific American, I found the following articles:

 

Appendix (Not needed, but not useless)

“human appendix does appear to have originated at a time when primates ate plants exclusively, and all that fiber was tougher to digest.”

What is the function of the human appendix? Did it once have a purpose that has since been lost?

Loren G. Martin, professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University, says: “For years, the appendix was credited with very little physiological function. We now know, however, that the appendix serves an important role in the fetus and in young adults.”

That’s No Vestigial Organ, That’s My Appendix

A study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology finds that many more animals have appendixes than was thought, and that the appendix is not merely a remnant of a digestive organ called the cecum. All of which means that the appendix might not be so useless. Steve Mirsky reports.

Does the appendix serve a purpose in any animal?

Thus, although scientists have long discounted the human appendix as a vestigial organ, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the appendix does in fact have a significant function as a part of the body¿s immune system. The appendix may be particularly important early in life because it achieves its greatest development shortly after birth and then regresses with age…

Your Appendix Could Save Your Life

You may have heard that the appendix is a relic of our past, like the hind leg bones of a whale. Bill Parker, a professor of surgery at the Duke University School of Medicine, heard that, too; he just disagrees. Parker thinks the appendix serves as a “nature reserve” for beneficial bacteria in our gut.

A study by James Grendell, chief of the division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, at Winthrop University-Hospital shows that Individuals without an appendix were four times more likely to have a recurrence of Clostridium difficile, exactly as Parker’s hypothesis predicted. Recurrence in individuals with their appendix intact occurred in 11% of cases. Recurrence in individuals without their appendix occurred in 48% of cases.

 

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