Saturday, August 22, 2009

Misconceptions about the Human Appendix

Some new research suggests that the human appendix evolved twice. Here's what sciencedaily reported about it:

"Maybe it's time to correct the textbooks," says William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgical sciences at Duke and the senior author of the study. "Many biology texts today still refer to the appendix as a 'vestigial organ.'"

This is downright ignorant. An organ does not have to be totally useless to be vestigial. From the 29 Evidences for MacroEvolution:

A vestige is defined, independently of evolutionary theory, as a reduced and rudimentary structure compared to the same complex structure in other organisms. Vestigial characters, if functional, perform relatively simple, minor, or inessential functions using structures that were clearly designed for other complex purposes. Though many vestigial organs have no function, complete non-functionality is not a requirement for vestigiality.

For example, wings are very complex anatomical structures specifically adapted for powered flight, yet ostriches have flightless wings. The vestigial wings of ostriches may be used for relatively simple functions, such as balance during running and courtship displays—a situation akin to hammering tacks with a computer keyboard. The specific complexity of the ostrich wing indicates a function which it does not perform, and it performs functions incommensurate with its complexity. Ostrich wings are not vestigial because they are useless structures per se, nor are they vestigial simply because they have different functions compared to wings in other birds. Rather, what defines ostrich wings as vestigial is that they are rudimentary wings which are useless as wings.

2 comments:

Abdul Alhazred said...

These guys have it all figured out:

http://www.rr-bb.com/showthread.php?p=1414643

Darwin was wrong about something ==> Evolution is false.

Evolution is false ==> Everything in the Bible is true.

Oooh! We're going to Hell. :)

Marc said...

Rofl at your link Abdul :P

Pz Myers also offered his thoughts on this
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/darwin_and_the_vermiform_appen.php