Scientists have long known that the human appendix has a beneficial function, yet students still see it mentioned as vestigial (“leftover and no longer useful”) in some biology textbooks. Recent research at the Duke University Medical Center has found another critical function that the appendix serves. A news report declared, in summary, that the appendix “is a safe haven where good bacteria could hang out until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea.”*

In Darwin’s day, the appendix was considered a useless leftover from our evolutionary heritage. As functions are discovered for formerly “useless” body parts, however, the list of “vestigial evidence” for evolution is in danger of becoming extinct.


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