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One of the things that count as conventional wisdom in human anatomy is that the Appendix is useless. People just get it removed with it gets inflamed and it pretty much serves no purpose at all. It’s said to be a vestigial organ, something that humans don’t need any more like wisdom teeth and the tailbone. However, new research has brought to light the fact that there might be a use for it after all.
Researchers at Midwestern University traced how many times the appendix appeared, disappeared and reappeared in mammals over a period of 11 million years. The answer was between 29 and 41 times. That’s incredible. The fact that an organ was brought into existence so many times must mean it had great evolutionary value; nothing is added or subtracted from the body without the pressures of evolution. It has been lost 12 times, a far lesser number than the times it appeared.
“…we can confidently reject the hypothesis that the appendix is a vestigial structure with little adaptive value or function among mammals” -Midwestern University Researchers
But what if we don’t need the appendix now? Why don’t we get rid of it through evolution? The answer might be that it just sits there not hurting anyone. It may occasionally inflame and require an operation but that’s not always the case. Hence, human evolution has learned to live with it.
The appendix does have a function we know off, though. It is a haven for intestinal bacteria that help us fight off infections that lead to diarrhea, fever, nausea and abdominal pain. In fact, individuals without an appendix were found be four times as likely to get said infection.