Appendix evolved 32 times, according to an article in ScienceNOW 12 February 2013 and Comptes Rendus Palevol The appendix has long been considered to be a non-functional left over from evolutionary ancestors. Darwin suggested the human appendix was the shrunken remains of a part of the intestines known as the caecum, and he suggested it once had a role in digesting leaves, fruit and other fibrous matter eaten by our monkey ancestors, but this is no longer needed in omnivorous human beings. The claim that the appendix is useless was disputed several years ago by scientists who found evidence that it acts as a “safe house” for good bacteria during bouts of inflammation of the large intestine. An international team of scientists has now carried out a survey of 361 living mammals, including 50 species now considered to have an appendix, to further check this claim.

They looked at the animals’ diets and plotted the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree, taking note of changes in diet according to their place in the evolutionary tree. Their results showed: “No correlation was found between appearance of an appendix and evolutionary changes in diet, fermentation strategy, coprophagia, social group size, activity pattern, cecal shape, or colonic separation mechanism”. Because they did not find a link with diet changes they claim their results support the “safe house” theory rather than being associated with digestion. They found that the 50 species with an appendix are scattered so widely across the evolutionary tree that they concluded the appendix has evolved independently at least 32 times. The went on to say: “These results, together with immunological and medical evidence, refute some of Darwin’s hypotheses and suggest that the appendix is adaptive but has not evolved as a response to any particular dietary or social factor evaluated here”.

Editorial Comment: It has long been known that the appendix contains lymphoid tissue, i.e. collections of immune cells, and is part of a whole system of lymphoid tissue associated with the digestive system to keep microbes in their proper place. However, this has been ignored in the popular science media to keep up the pretence of “vestigial organs” as evidence for evolution. The “safe house” theory advanced in 2007 finally made biologists admit that the appendix might be useful after all and they are reluctantly taking it off the vestigial organ lists.

By calling the appendix “adaptive”, the scientists who did this study really mean an appendix is a useful thing to have, but that does not explain how it could pop in and out of existence during evolution. Since no-one has ever seen an animal without an appendix develop one, the idea that the appendix evolved even once by naturalistic processes is blind faith. Now it seems evolutionists need 32 times as much faith as creationists who believe God created each separate kind of mammal, with or without an appendix as needed. (Ref. phylogeny, immunity, mammals)

Evidence News 31 July 2013

For more details on the appendix and other organs considered to be vestigial remnants of evolution see the Creation Research article Vestigial Organs. PDF here.