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Question:
Why do we have an appendix when we can live fine without it?



Replies:
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.

Christopher Grayce



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