April 25, 2014

The Useless Appendix and Other Darwinian Myths

Appendix The Useless Appendix and Other Darwinian Myths

by Casey Luskin
Evolution News and Views

At the Center for Science & Culture’s Facebook page, a commenter asks how we would respond to a graphic that is making the Internet rounds, humorously imagining a dialogue between God and an angel. It’s a conversation about “intelligent design,” with the angel playing the role of the skeptic and challenging God to explain some puzzling human anatomical features. The short dialogue includes this exchange:

Angel: What about this weird bag thing?
God: That’s the appendix.
Angel: What does it do?
God: It explodes.
Angel: Really? That’s all?
God: Pretty much.

This is the stuff that urban legends are made of. The human appendix’s job isn’t to “explode.” In fact, it performs important immune functions. We’ve discussed this many times before here on ENV (see here, here, here, or here), but to reiterate, a 2007 news article stated:

The appendix “acts as a good safe house for bacteria,” said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a study co-author. Its location — just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac — helps support the theory, he said. Also, the worm-shaped organ outgrowth acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs, Parker said.

Additionally, Loren G. Martin, professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University, lists various likely functions for the appendix. Writing on Scientific American‘s website, he includes these examples:

  • being “involved primarily in immune functions”
  • “function[ing] as a lymphoid organ, assisting with the maturation of B lymphocytes (one variety of white blood cell) and in the production of the class of antibodies known as immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies.
  • helping with “the production of molecules that help to direct the movement of lymphocytes to various other locations in the body”
  • “suppress[ing] potentially destructive humoral (blood- and lymph-borne) antibody responses while promoting local immunity”

Read the Full Article Here: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/06/the_useless_app_1060521.html

 

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