A team of scientists discovered that the appendix has already developed about 29 times but only disappeared from the anatomy of mammals on 12 separate occasions. This being so, more important than was considered.
The appendix is not a vestigial organ in humans, suggested a study carried out under the American university of Midwestern. After studying the evolution of the appendix in the anatomy of about 533 species of different mammals in the past 11 million years, scientists have now discovered that this organ has already developed at least 29 times, and has definitely disappeared on only 12 such occasions.
Whenever a mammal develops this organ at some stage of its evolution, it rarely loses it, and if that happens, the organ returns to the anatomy of animals by evolutionary pressure, explained the university statement. This may mean that, contrary to what has been conveyed to us, the function of the appendix may be more important than previously thought.
At the time of publication of this study in the French scientific journal Comptes Rendus Palevol, the scientific community believed that the appendix was in the same group as the wisdom teeth or even some ear muscles, were useful to our ancestors millions of years ago, But the present lifestyle of the human being, made them dispensable in our anatomy.
Although this theory cannot be definitively ruled out for the time being, “there is strong statistical evidence that the appearance of the appendix is significantly more likely than its loss, which suggests a selective value for this structure.” That is, given the Darwinian Natural Selection Theory, the appendix can play an essential role for the survival of a species, which will become more apt if it has that organ.
Everything indicates that the appendix is a reservoir of bacteria useful to prevent the development of certain infections in the digestive system, this will be their function. An investigation done 5 years ago, suggests the same conclusion that people without appendix are four times more likely to contract pseudomembranous colitis, an inflammation in the colon caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile.
In some cases of hospital infections, the recurrence in people with the appendix was 11 in 100, and that number rose to 48 in 100 (in patients without appendix).
Another function that seems to be directly associated with the appendix is immune function, the organ having a large concentration of lymphatic tissue, thus suggesting that it may be an integral part of the immune system. Thus, these lymphatic tissues stimulate the growth of intestinal bacteria, very important to keep the organs functioning in a healthy way.
Although the research team still needs more data to draw definitive conclusions about these findings, they also want to understand whether removal of the appendix can or does not remove a person’s quality of life in the long run.