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Human appendix—just can’t get no respect

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The human appendix—once scorned by evolutionists as a useless ‘vestigial organ’—long ago earned the respect of medical doctors.  Unfortunately, this truth has not filtered down to textbooks and the popular press.  Just recently, the Associated Press distributed an article to US newspapers on the appendix 1, warning readers that doctors often misdiagnose other ailments as ‘appendicitis’ and opt for removal.  (A major study found that 15% of removed appendixes were normal.) 

The AP article reinforced the persistent belief that the appendix is a useless organ, leftover from our evolutionary past, by claiming ‘the appendix … has no real function.’

We all might be dead, in fact, if we were born without an appendix.

You see, the appendix is a highly specialized organ with a rich blood supply, not what you would expect from a degenerate, useless structure.  It has long been known that the appendix contains lymphatic tissue and has a role in controlling bacteria entering the intestines (see Frederic H. Martini, Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, 1995). 

A clue to the appendix’s function is its strategic position where the small bowel meets the colon.  The colon is loaded with bacteria that are useful there, but which must be kept away from other areas.  The appendix’s main role is likely to be in early childhood (see  ‘Your Appendix: It’s there for a reason’). The organ’s highly concentrated lymphoid follicles, which play an important role in the immune system, develop about two weeks after birth—at the same time that the colon begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria.

At one time evolutionists postulated there were 180 ‘vestigial’ structures in the human body.  Today this list has shrunk to virtually zero.  No organ should be removed without good reason!

For in-depth information, please read ‘The Human Vermiform Appendix—a General Surgeon’s Reflections.’

Reference

  1. Tanner, L., Study urges appendix caution, Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 July 2002.

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