Twelve Evolutionary Leftovers Man Can Do Without

Read this, all those who believe that evolution makes no mistakes that it doesn’t fix. We have lots of bits and pieces of tried-and-failed experiments that haven’t yet worked their way out of our human genome. This, above all, is probably why DNA computers are still just a gleam in a computer scientist’s eye: DNA makes lots of mistakes.

    • Appendix

      We all know about this one. You might even know someone who has had it removed. The appendix is a narrow, muscular tube attached to the large intestine. A common misconception is that this organ was used for digesting raw meat. It was actually used in our plant chewing days. It would aid in the digestion of cellulose. As the human diet changed, this organ stopped functioning, as it was no longer used. To be noted though, the appendix is rich with infection-fighting lymphoid cells, which leads some to think it still plays a role in our immune system. If the appendix did have this function, one would tend to believe that its routine removal would cause ill side effects.

    • Coccyx (AKA: The Tail Bone)

      The coccyx is a set of fused vertebrae at the bottom of the spinal column. This is another useless remain of our ancestral past. It’s all that’s left of our tails, which disappeared from hominids before they began walking upright. The coccyx does serve as somewhat of a shock absorber, though that was not it’s original function.It is true that the coccyx has nine muscles attached to it, such as the muscle that is “necessary” for defecation. It should be noted that the coccyx, if surgically removed, does not cause any apparent health issues.

    • Extrinsic Ear Muscles

      These three muscles most likely made it possible for prehominids to move their ears independently of their heads (again, like a cat or dog). We still have these muscles which is why most people can learn how to wiggle their ears.

    • Toes

      While losing ones toes would cause problems with walking for awhile, we technically only need our big toe as a function to help keep our balance. Our toes were most likey used at one point for grasping on to things and climbing.

    • Neck Rib

      This is a set of cervical ribs commonly thought to be leftovers from the age of reptiles. They still appear in less than 1% (about 1 in 200) of humans, and in rarer cases a person may not just have one but have two neck ribs. Unfortunately, these can cause nerve and artery problems.

    • Darwin's PointDarwin’s Point

      Take your finger and run it along the the inner edge of your ear. Near the top you’ll notice a small piece of skin that is almost like a point. If you can’t find it, don’t worry not all humans still carry this. They believe that this may be a remain of a larger shape that helped us focus on distant sounds.

    • Third Eyelid

      Somewhere along the evolutionary journey we actually had a third eye lid, much like you see on a frogs, for example. Humans retain a tiny fold in the inner corner of the eye.

    • Male Nipplesnipple

      Lactiferous ducts (the lobes of the mammary gland at the tip of the nipple) form well before the the testosterone is released that causes a fetus to be a male. Also, men have mammary tissue that can be stimulated to produce milk.

    • Wisdom Teeth

      If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had your wisdom teeth removed. I had all four of mine pulled when I was in high school. Despite what you think, these teeth weren’t totally useless. Since early humans had to chew a lot of plants (to intake the amount of calories needed to survive) the more teeth the better. Another theory regarding wisdom teeth is that they were replacement teeth that were lost from wear and tear.

    • Body Hair

      Most of your body hair serves no function (though some think otherwise). Eyebrows keep sweat from going into your eyes, and male facial hair may play a role in sexual selection. Armpit and pubic hair help deal with moisture but beyond that it does us no good. Your arm and leg hair are just the remains of a once fully covered body of hair.

    • Junk DNA

We have a whole load of DNA that seems to serve no actual purpose. Well OK it may serve a purpose but at present it seems that it’s leftover DNA

that we no longer need but still hangs around. The scientific jury is still out on this one.

    • Thirteenth Rib

      While our closest cousins (chimps and gorillas) still retain this extra set of ribs, most humans have 12 ribs. Additionally, about 8% of humans are born with extra ribs.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

1 Response to “Twelve Evolutionary Leftovers Man Can Do Without”

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

Read Sizzling Science on Kindle


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 234 other followers

Share This

Bookmark and Share



Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography

Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.19 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.24 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.20 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.02 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.15 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.98 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
California Yellow Pages
blogarama - the blog directory
Free Blog Directory
wordpress stats
blog search directory
Science Blogs

Vote for Me

%d bloggers like this: