Appendix Not Totally Useless

The small organ evolved too many times for it to be an accident, but it’s still unclear what it does.

By | February 15, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, OLEK REMESZThe evolution of the appendix was not an accident, the Huffington Post reported. Researchers analyzed relatedness of the 50 out of 361 living mammalian species that have appendices. They found that the appendix had evolved independently 32 to 38 times and was lost only seven times, making it likely that it evolved for a reason.

The purpose of the appendix remains a mystery, however. While some scientists have thought must have originally evolved to aid in digestion, the study, published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol earlier this month (February 7), refutes that hypothesis.

The researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing the historical diets of the species that had evolved appendices. They found that the appearance of an appendix had no correlation with diet changes, indicating that despite being located in our gut, the appendix is not involved in digestion.

The paper’s authors support the hypothesis that the appendix may actually be a shelter for commensal gut bacterial during diarrheal disease. In the face of an infection, they may hide in the out-of-the-way appendix, preparing to return once the undesirable microbes have been flushed out.

But Randolph Nesse, a biologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is not entirely convinced, maintaining the appendix’s purpose is still unkown. "One wonders why such a trait with such a function would not be universal," he told The Huffington Post.

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Avatar of: JRocked


Posts: 1

February 19, 2013

Of the independently evolved appendix, were the animals that were studied omnivore or herbivore?

Avatar of: Imani Burrell

Imani Burrell

Posts: 1

February 20, 2013

Yeah, its totally useless... unless you consider the following to be of benefit:

  1. Aids with digestive support
  2. Enhances synthesis of B vitamins and improves absorption of Calcium (bone building)
  3. Protects against E. Coli infection
  4. Improves lactose tolerance and digestibility of milk products
  5. Reduces vaginal infection and yeast infection (candida)
  6. Improves immune function
  7. Promotes anti-carcinogenic activity
  8. Helps prevent peptic ulcers caused by H. Pylori
  9. Helps prevent and reduce acne
  10. Helps with cholesterol metabolism
  11. Helps improve nutritional value of foods
  12. Protects against traveler’s diarrhea and speeds recovery after exposure
  13. Helps with problems of constipation
  14. Helps re-establish micro-flora after antibiotic use
  15. May help lower allergic response
  16. May help with recurring Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  17. Helps with detoxification & colon cleansing
  18. Helps produce natural antibiotics, like “acidophilus”
  19. Helps alleviate bad breath
  20. Ameliorates gynecologic dysfunction
  21. Possess anti-tumorigenic activity
  22. Helps the colonization within the intestinal, respiratory, and urogenital tract
Avatar of: ironjustice


Posts: 43

February 25, 2013

Dr. Jerome Sullivan found , during his work with hemochromatosis , that the appendix seems to be a 'canary in the mine' for those with hemochromatosis , in that appendix removal predicts hemochromatosis developement later in life.

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