Appendix Not a Useless Organ, as Formerly Thought -- Serves Critical Function, Say Researchers From Arizona and Duke U
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Creationists will have a field day with this one.
Turns out that Charles Darwin was wrong about the appendix. Darwin believed the organ didn't do anything useful, so it might have been vestigial -- an evolutionary leftover from an early antecedent of humans.
However, a team of researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Duke University recently published an scholarly article that describes how the appendix actually servers a critical -- though somewhat disgusting -- function.
Turns out you need your appendix to store replacement bacteria in case of a hellacious bout with diarrhea. Mammals -- a category of animals that includes humans -- have had appendices for about 80 million years, say the researchers.
If Darwin had known more about the appendix,
...he probably would not have thought of the appendix as a vestige of evolution."
He also was not aware that appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix, is not due to a faulty appendix, but rather due to cultural changes associated with industrialized society and improved sanitation. "Those changes left our immune systems with too little work and too much time their hands - a recipe for trouble," says (William) Parker.
That notion wasn't proposed until the early 1900's, and "we didn't really have a good understanding of that principle until the mid 1980's," Parker said. "Even more importantly, Darwin had no way of knowing that the function of the appendix could be rendered obsolete by cultural changes that included widespread use of sewer systems and clean drinking water."
Poor Darwin -- everyone's always pointing out his mistakes. But somehow, his theory that animals evolved from common ancestors is stronger and more confirmed than ever.
That doesn't stop Bible-thumpers like those at Answers in Genesis from using the evolving opinions about appendices over the years against the overall fact of evolution.
But keep in mind -- this is the same brain trust that advocates the laughable idea that all animals -- including dinosaurs -- were created by their god 6,000 years ago.