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The Appendix: Useful and in Fact Promising

Posted by on Aug. 25, 2009 at 8:18 PM
  • 12 Replies

 http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090824/sc_livescience/theappendixusefulandinfactpromising

The body's appendix has long been thought of as nothing more than a worthless evolutionary artifact, good for nothing save a potentially lethal case of inflammation.

Now researchers suggest the appendix is a lot more than a useless remnant. Not only was it recently proposed to actually possess a critical function, but scientists now find it appears in nature a lot more often than before thought. And it's possible some of this organ's ancient uses could be recruited by physicians to help the human body fight disease more effectively.

In a way, the idea that the appendix is an organ whose time has passed has itself become a concept whose time is over.

"Maybe it's time to correct the textbooks," said researcher William Parker, an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "Many biology texts today still refer to the appendix as a 'vestigial organ.'"

Slimy sac

The vermiform appendix is a slimy dead-end sac that hangs between the small and large intestines. No less than Charles Darwin first suggested that the appendix was a vestigial organ from an ancestor that ate leaves, theorizing that it was the evolutionary remains of a larger structure, called a cecum, which once was used by now-extinct predecessors for digesting food.

However, Parker and his colleagues recently suggested that the appendix still served as a vital safehouse where good bacteria could lie in wait until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea. Past studies had also found the appendix can help make, direct and train white blood cells.

Now, in the first investigation of the appendix over the ages, Parker explained they discovered that it has been around much longer than anyone had suspected, hinting that it plays a critical function.

"The appendix has been around for at least 80 million years, much longer than we would estimate if Darwin's ideas about the appendix were correct," Parker said.

Moreover, the appendix appears in nature much more often than previously acknowledged. It has evolved at least twice, once among Australian marsupials such as the wombat and another time among rats, lemmings, meadow voles, Cape dune mole-rats and other rodents, as well as humans and certain primates.

by on Aug. 25, 2009 at 8:18 PM
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Replies (1-10):
1bluediamond
by Gold Member on Aug. 25, 2009 at 9:05 PM

I'm glad that I still have my appendix. I remember reading a similar article that showed that it played a back up for your liver. I wonder if the appendix can be saved when someone suffers from appendicitis?

Eilish
by on Aug. 25, 2009 at 9:09 PM

Very interesting.

mamadixon
by Gold Member on Aug. 25, 2009 at 9:21 PM

hmmm

mrs_khan07
by Silver Member on Aug. 25, 2009 at 10:30 PM

That's very interesting. My sister's appendix exploded. I guess it's a good thing it is not a VITAL organ. I always wondered about that mysterious thing...

Mrs. Khan



tericared
by on Aug. 25, 2009 at 10:42 PM


Quoting Eilish:

Very interesting.

I thought so...I always found it odd that people would say 'oh we dont need that organ"...but why would Allah give it to us in the first place...

Raintree
by Ruby Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 12:15 AM

I think I read about this last year. VERY interesting.

A friend of mine lost her appendix after getting sick up at camp one summer. They barely made it down the mountain. And.. she is often sick. Can't seem to shake things off.

I'm glad I still have mine!

The liberal person shall be enriched, and he who waters shall himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

PerseyG
by Silver Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 12:33 AM

The problem with Parker's theory(and it's still a theory), is his claim that because it's been around for 80 million years, it's meant to be there.

Except that it hasn't been a part of homo sapians anatomy for 80 million years. Homo Sapians haven't been around for 80 million years. How our bodies are and have evolved ARE quite different that that of marsupials and non-human primates. How our bodies utilize our organs and on what levels varies greatly from most other species.

Humans don't really need the appendix, meaning we can live without it quite healthily and long. We also don't really need our spleen, gall bladder, both lungs, both kidneys, and a whole liver either. Many people have lived long full lives with  parts missing.

I really wish these guys would spend time really trying to improve our health and lives rather than spending time trying to debunk things that real life has already proven to be valid. So what if the appendix is a bit good for us? Alot of them still get infected and have to be removed and most of those individuals continue on with life just fine.

stormcris
by Christy on Aug. 26, 2009 at 12:57 AM

On the note of the appendix I don't have mine so I guess I am SOL on that part. However, I challenge the idea that just because we can live without something means we do not need them. Many of the things you mentioned cause other health issues when removed. You can live without half your brain but do you really think that part is not needed?

Quoting PerseyG:

The problem with Parker's theory(and it's still a theory), is his claim that because it's been around for 80 million years, it's meant to be there.

Except that it hasn't been a part of homo sapians anatomy for 80 million years. Homo Sapians haven't been around for 80 million years. How our bodies are and have evolved ARE quite different that that of marsupials and non-human primates. How our bodies utilize our organs and on what levels varies greatly from most other species.

Humans don't really need the appendix, meaning we can live without it quite healthily and long. We also don't really need our spleen, gall bladder, both lungs, both kidneys, and a whole liver either. Many people have lived long full lives with  parts missing.

I really wish these guys would spend time really trying to improve our health and lives rather than spending time trying to debunk things that real life has already proven to be valid. So what if the appendix is a bit good for us? Alot of them still get infected and have to be removed and most of those individuals continue on with life just fine.


PerseyG
by Silver Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 1:08 AM

True. But then it does come down to quality of life. Yes you can live with half a brain(Ann Coulter does...badumdum) however, is it a quality life? Probably not since you're most likely a vegetable. However, millions of people live full quality lives with only one kidney or one lung. Can they run a 10k? Probably not, although some can and do. Millions of people live without their  appendixes and have no problems whatsoever. Can people have adverse reactions to having their appendix removed? Certainly. But is it proven without a doubt that their problems are directly and solely related to not having an appendix? No.

Our bodies are immensely complex and we are learning new things every day but for this quack to suggest that we alter modern medicine and evolutionary biology on a mass scale because he believes that the appendix is far more important than it's actually shown to be is really silly. It's indulgence at best.

I wonder what would happen if people were truly aware of how biologically useless a pinky finger is?


 

Quoting stormcris:

On the note of the appendix I don't have mine so I guess I am SOL on that part. However, I challenge the idea that just because we can live without something means we do not need them. Many of the things you mentioned cause other health issues when removed. You can live without half your brain but do you really think that part is not needed?

Quoting PerseyG:

The problem with Parker's theory(and it's still a theory), is his claim that because it's been around for 80 million years, it's meant to be there.

Except that it hasn't been a part of homo sapians anatomy for 80 million years. Homo Sapians haven't been around for 80 million years. How our bodies are and have evolved ARE quite different that that of marsupials and non-human primates. How our bodies utilize our organs and on what levels varies greatly from most other species.

Humans don't really need the appendix, meaning we can live without it quite healthily and long. We also don't really need our spleen, gall bladder, both lungs, both kidneys, and a whole liver either. Many people have lived long full lives with  parts missing.

I really wish these guys would spend time really trying to improve our health and lives rather than spending time trying to debunk things that real life has already proven to be valid. So what if the appendix is a bit good for us? Alot of them still get infected and have to be removed and most of those individuals continue on with life just fine.



che_bad
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 1:13 AM

 interesting.  my mother has Pseudomyxoma peritonei & has discussed with me possibly having my appendix removed to avoid this cancer.

" Do not prepare the path for the child,
Prepare the child for the path and he will find his way"
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