Appendix 2: Vestigial Organs Reconsidered
Outcast becomes hero: appendix promoted to “pivotal”. The vestigial organ myth lives on in other contexts, though.
Immune cells make appendix ‘silent hero’ of digestive health (Science Daily): It won’t be correct to speak of the appendix as a vestigial organ any more, now that European scientists have promoted it to hero:
New research shows a network of immune cells helps the appendix to play a pivotal role in maintaining the health of the digestive system, supporting the theory that the appendix isn’t a vestigial — or redundant — organ….
“Popular belief tells us the appendix is a liability,” she said. “Its removal is one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia, with more than 70,000 operations each year. However, we may wish to rethink whether the appendix is so irrelevant for our health.
“We’ve found that ILCs [innate lymphoid cells] may help the appendix to potentially reseed ‘good’ bacteria within the microbiome — or community of bacteria — in the body. A balanced microbiome is essential for recovery from bacterial threats to gut health, such as food poisoning.” ….
“We found ILCs are part of a multi-layered protective armoury of immune cells that exist in healthy individuals. So even when one layer is depleted, the body has ‘back ups’ that can fight the infection.
There’s still a great deal to learn about the immune system, as another Science Daily article indicates. Explaining “why we do not constantly get ill despite viruses, bacteria” the article says that “New research breaks with existing knowledge about how our immune system works.” In fact, the research at Aarhus University “fundamentally alters our understanding of how the body begins its defence against viruses.” If we are still finding things out in 2015, certainly Weidersheim didn’t know what he was talking about in 1893 when, inspired by Darwin’s theory of useless leftovers from evolution, he put the appendix on his list of vestigial organs.
Why do we have wisdom teeth? (Medical Xpress): Vestigial organ theory lives on, however. In a short video, Maria Papageorge of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine explains why we still have wisdom teeth. Our ancestors needed third molars, she explains in schoolteacher stance, because they had to chew hard plant foods. Now that we cook and process our food, we no longer need them. The human jaw shrank and now crowds them out. Someone should point out to her that her explanation is Lamarckian.
If you begin with the assumption of intelligent design, you are much more likely to reach a sound conclusion that will stand the test of time. This includes cases where original design was good but has degraded, such as third molars or blind fish.
It sure takes a long time for Darwinian myths to vanish from “popular belief.” Lesson: don’t start myths.