August 4, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Spleen Scores, Darwin Loses

Hold onto your spleen if you can.  The lowly organ, “known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected.”  Natalie Angier reported in the New York Times that Harvard researchers found that the spleen acts like a fort for disease-fighting monocytes, at the ready when infection strikes.  It’s like a standing army.  “You don’t want to have to recruit an entire fighting force from the ground up every time you need it,” said Matthias Nahrendorf, an author of the report.  This is apparently a surprising discovery about an organ known since Galen studied anatomy in Roman times.  The spleen can even protect against heart attacks by surrounding the heart with millions of monocytes.  It’s a rapid-response repair team – a “sensible, desirable, an excellent display of emergency preparedness.”
    Because a person can survive without it, some Darwinists had considered it a vestigial organ – a leftover from our evolutionary past.  Angier wrote that this finding “sounds a cautionary note against underestimating a body part or dismissing it as vestigial, expendable or past its prime.”  Dr. Nahrendorf quipped, “Evolution has an edge on us.  I would be very careful about saying, ‘You don’t need this organ, get rid of it.’”

That last silly line with Evolution as the clever wizard should be enough to vent your spleen.  Evolution got medicine into this mess.  Don’t let Evolution become the hero of the story.  Evolution is a wizard, all right: the blunderful Wizard of Flaws (09/05/2008).

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Categories: Health, Human Body

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