A recent article in ScienceDaily discusses a new article in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology regarding the evolution of the human appendix.
As you know, Darwin thought that the vermiform appendix was a vestigial, nonfunctional structure "left over" from our evolutionary past.
And if you been using my A&P textbooks for the last ten years or so, you also know that biologists have long suspected (and recently confirmed) that the appendix is no such thing. Its function is to incubate intestinal flora (gut bacteria)—which helps keep the ecosystem of the gut in a healthy balance by repopulating the colon with beneficial bacteria after an illness or other disturbance.
The new journal article, written by some of the same researchers involved in the most recent confirmation of the "incubator model of the appendix," tackles the evolutionary aspects of the appendix.
Want to know more?
Evolution Of The Human Appendix: A Biological 'Remnant' No More.Click here for a FREE surgical photo of a human vermiform appendix.
Duke University Medical Center
ScienceDaily Duke University Medical Center. 21 August 2009.
[Summary of the journal article and its context]
Comparative anatomy and phylogenetic distribution of the mammalian cecal appendix
Smith, et al.Journal of Evolutionary Biology. published online 12 August 2009
[Abstract of the journal article, published in advance of the print version]