Why You Might Want to Keep Your Appendix
Study: It has evolved in 32 different mammals, might protect gut
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2013 5:46 PM CST
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A new study lends weight to the theory that the appendix has been getting a bad rap for centuries. Researchers determined that the organ had evolved independently in at least 32 different mammals, which wouldn't make a lot of evolutionary sense if it served no purpose, reports Science. Conventional wisdom, made popular by Darwin himself, holds that the appendix was important eons ago when human ancestors ate mostly leaves, but fell out of service when our diet and digestion needs changed. The new research refutes this theory, finding scant evidence of a link to the appendix and diet in the mammals studied.

So what might the appendix do? The article floats an interesting "safe house" theory that's been around for a few years: On the rare occasion when beneficial bacteria in the gut is overrun by its dangerous brethren, the good stuff can "retreat to the safety of the appendix, which remains unaffected," it says. "Once the immune system has beaten the infection, the beneficial bacteria emerge from the appendix to quickly recolonize the gut."

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
Tsunagu
Feb 14, 2013 12:41 PM CST
So this beneficial bacteria that retreats to the appendix are like "Doomsday Preppers?"
farzhan
Feb 14, 2013 12:39 PM CST
like I was really thinking of getting rid of it because of what Darwin said. I really value his opinion on internal organs, they knew so much about them in the 1800s. You shouldn't get rid of anything you're born with without a fight, including tonsils, teeth, & foreskin, & your appendix. Mainstream medical science is highly overrated, & vastly overtrusted
Bill Inaz
Feb 14, 2013 5:45 AM CST
With access to the range of probiotics we have today I would think daily use , if you tolerate dairy, of kefir and other cultured products would compensate, even if this theory has some merit.