Name: Arthur K Gum
Why do we have an appendix when we can live fine without it?
You are assuming that the human body was designed purposely and
cleverly. Not everyone believes this. There are a number of dumb and
useless features about the human body. For example, the blood vessels
supplying the retina (sensitive back surface) of the eye pass *in
front* of the retina, thus obstructing our vision. People choke to
death because both breath and food go down the same pipe. Sound
vibrates the eardrum, which moves the delicate set of tiny bones in
the middle ear (susceptible to infection and damage), which do nothing
more than vibrate another, inner "eardrum" on the cochlea. Why not
dispense with the in-between stuff?
The conventional explanation for all this, and the appendix, is
that evolution proceeds by jury-rigging previous designs. That is,
once upon a time a creature had an appendix-like thing for some good
reason (termites use it to digest wood, I think). The plan of this
creature was adapted slightly to make a new creature, and so on until
you get us. With an appendix "left over" that we have no use for.
How come the computer keyboard has such a crazy arrangement of
letters? Same reason. Once upon a time there was a purpose to it
(preventing early manual typewriters from jamming), but now there's
not, and since keyboards have been adapted from earlier keyboards
going back to that first one (actually one of the first ones), with no
one at some point sitting down and saying "Hey, let's design this
thing from scratch!" this is what we're stuck with.
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Update: June 2012