This list was found on the net and was originally drafted by Jocelyn Selim.
A tiny pit on each side of the septum is lined with nonfunctioning chemoreceptors. They may be all that remains of a once extensive pheromone-detecting ability.
EXTRINSIC EAR MUSCLES
This trio of muscles most likely made it possible for prehominids to move their ears independently of their heads, as rabbits and dogs do. We still have them, which is why most people can learn to wiggle their ears.
Early humans had to chew a lot of plants to get enough calories to survive, making another row of molars helpful. Only about 5 percent of the population has a healthy set of these third molars.
A set of cervical ribs—possibly leftovers from the age of reptiles—still appear in less than 1 percent of the population. They often cause nerve and artery problems.
A common ancestor of birds and mammals may have had a membrane for protecting the eye and sweeping out debris. Humans retain only a tiny fold in the inner corner of the eye.
A small folded point of skin toward the top of each ear is occasionally found in modern humans. It may be a remnant of a larger shape that helped focus distant sounds.
This small muscle stretching under the shoulder from the first rib to the collarbone would be useful if humans still walked on all fours. Some people have one, some have none, and a few have two.
This long, narrow muscle runs from the elbow to the wrist and is missing in 11 percent of modern humans. It may once have been important for hanging and climbing. Surgeons harvest it for reconstructive surgery.
Lactiferous ducts form well before testosterone causes sex differentiation in a fetus. Men have mammary tissue that can be stimulated to produce milk.
Bundles of smooth muscle fibers allow animals to puff up their fur for insulation or to intimidate others. Humans retain this ability (goose bumps are the indicator) but have obviously lost most of the fur.
This narrow, muscular tube attached to the large intestine served as a special area to digest cellulose when the human diet consisted more of plant matter than animal protein. It also produces some white blood cells. Annually, more than 300,000 Americans have an appendectomy.
Brows help keep sweat from the eyes, and male facial hair may play a role in sexual selection, but apparently most of the hair left on the human body serves no function.
Often mistaken for a nerve by freshman medical students, the muscle was useful to other primates for grasping with their feet. It has disappeared altogether in 9 percent of the population.
Our closest cousins, chimpanzees and gorillas, have an extra set of ribs. Most of us have 12, but 8 percent of adults have the extras.
A remnant of an undeveloped female reproductive organ hangs off the male prostate gland.
Lesser apes use all their toes for grasping or clinging to branches. Humans need mainly the big toe for balance while walking upright.
FEMALE VAS DEFERENS
What might become sperm ducts in males become the epoophoron in females, a cluster of useless dead-end tubules near the ovaries.
More than 20 percent of us lack this tiny, triangular pouchlike muscle that attaches to the pubic bone. It may be a relic from pouched marsupials.
These fused vertebrae are all that’s left of the tail that most mammals still use for balance and communication. Our hominid ancestors lost the need for a tail before they began walking upright.
PARANASAL SIN– USES
The nasal sinuses of our early ancestors may have been lined with odor receptors that gave a heightened sense of smell, which aided survival. No one knows why we retain these perhaps troublesome mucus-lined cavities, except to make the head lighter and to warm and moisten the air we breathe.
In 1859, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published The Origin of Species, which articulated the first full-fledged theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin viewed the history of life like a tree, each fork in the tree’s limbs representing a shared ancestry. The tips of the limbs represented modern species and the branches represented the common ancestors shared amongst species. To explain these relationships, Darwin contended that all living things were related and descended from a few forms, or even from a single common ancestor, in a process he described as “descent with modification”.
Darwin’s view was controversial because humans did not receive special consideration in this evolutionary tree: they were merely one of its many branches. Though he did not make this explicit at first, his friend and supporter T. H. Huxley soon presented evidence that humans and apes shared a common ancestor. The popular press of the day misinterpreted this as an assertion that humans were descended from monkeys.
Darwin’s explanation of the mechanism of evolution relied on his theory of natural selection, a theory developed from the following observations:
1. If all the individuals of a species reproduced successfully, the population of that species would increase exponentially.
2. Except for seasonal fluctuations, populations tend to remain stable in size.
3. Environmental resources are limited.
4. The traits found in a population vary extensively. No two individuals in a given species are exactly alike.
5. Many of the variations found in a population can be passed on to offspring.
From these observations, Darwin deduced that the production of more offspring than the environment can support leads to a struggle for existence, with only a small percentage of individuals surviving in each generation. He noted that the chance for surviving this struggle is not random, but depends on how well-adapted each individual is to its environment. Well-adapted, or “fit” individuals will more likely leave a greater number of offspring than their less well-adapted competitors. Darwin concluded that the unequal ability of individuals to survive and reproduce leads to gradual changes in the population as the traits which help the organism survive and reproduce accumulate over generations and those that inhibit its survival and reproduction are lost. Darwin used the term natural selection to describe this process.
The variations in a population arise by chance mutations in DNA, but natural selection is not a process of chance: the environment determines the probability of reproductive success. The end products of natural selection are organisms that are adapted to their present environments.
Natural selection does not involve progress towards an ultimate goal. Evolution does not necessarily strive for more advanced, more intelligent, or more sophisticated life forms. For example, fleas (wingless parasites) are descended from a winged, ancestral scorpionfly, and snakes are lizards that no longer require limbs. Organisms are merely the outcome of variations that succeed or fail, dependent upon the environmental conditions at the time. In reality, when the environment changes, most species fail to adapt and become extinct.
59 thoughts on “20 Useless Body Parts (Why Do / Did We Need Them?)”
very good research man….
I love lists like this!! Your comments added in are a hoot! I too would have loved to have a third eyelid when I was younger…well, actually having one now would be pretty cool too! lol!! Thanks for this post…I enjoyed it!
Thanks for visiting and commenting!
Good find, I liked you comments. Also, Humans share a recent ancestor with chimps, but what did it evolve from? Somewhere in our evolutionary history there are reptiles, fish, bacteria and (i guess) marsupials. My favorite is the third eyelid, dang that would be awesome, but what if it got infected?
By my understanding, they mean that the big toe is the only really important one for balance, with the 5th or “pinky” being completely unnecessary at this point.
A lot of what we think is “useless” is driven by cultural bias. The pedophiles in the fashion industry don’t like body hair, so it must be useless, right? WRONG. It’s a sensory organ! Ever feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Ever been a hairy chested man outside on a buggy night? No bites! I can feel them land on me better than any androgynous boy-man could.
If by some freak accident you lose your pinky toe, please remember to come back and tell us whether or not it has debilitated you. 😉
➡ I wonder what “Useless Body Parts” Smiley have 😐
Actually, the point on your ear isn’t visible, but if you run your finger alongside the inside of its main curve, you’ll feel the bump, if you have one. Only my right ear does.
I’m one of the lucky ones that never had wisdom teeth, a trait inherited down from my father, and his mother before him. God, did my brother HATE that little fact, as he inherited them from our mother 😆
Good list. I’m with AttemptingReaon, apes may be our first cousins, marsupials may be second cousins, and lizards may be third cousins, evolutionarily speaking.
Max: How’s your coccyx?
Hairy chests became useless when we decided to wear clothing – a good shirt prevents bug bites much better than hair.
Or maybe we decided to wear clothing because our hairy chests were getting less hairy… Hard to tell…
I am hairy and grew up in the Caribbean, and let me tell you that my hairy chest and hairy legs didn’t stop the bugs from biting. Perhaps our previous commentator lives where there are barely any bugs. Anyway, his comment is based on personal likes and dislikes, not on scientific evidence and in contrast to this awesome list!
😆 This is a very good list of body parts i was not aware, some of those body parts would come very helpful right about now.
But the functionalities of most of these organs/body parts may not have been fully understood.
Like the appendix
Recent study claims that appendix does perform certain functions that are not just remnants of evolution.
Article: source AP
‘Human appendix for making, protecting good germs’
Washington, Oct. 6 (AP): Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for the gut.
That is the theory from surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School, published online in a scientific journal this week.
For generations the appendix has been dismissed as superfluous.
Doctors could find no function for it. Surgeons removed them routinely. People live fine without them.
And when infected the appendix can turn deadly. It becomes inflamed quickly, and some people die if it is not removed expeditiously.
Two years ago, 321,000 Americans were hospitalised with appendicitis, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria that populates the human digestive system, according to the study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.
More bacteria inhabit the typical body than human cells. Most of the bacteria are good and help digest food.
But sometimes the flora of bacteria in the intestines die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria.
The appendix’s job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.
krisk posted about the appendix, good job.
body hair is useful and does serve a purpose. it protects the skin. i have an uncle who lost his body hair due to a disease, and his skin gets very dry, and clothing hurts because the skin has no protection. hair can also act as a lubricant, allowing things to glide over them, while they also secret oils.
pretty good stuff interesting
male nipples are for piercings
What a bunch of crap. Yeah, humans evolved from lizards. Who told you that, the witch doctor? This is obsolete garbage. Sure, there is very strong evidence that humans evolve, but humans didn’t ever come from any ape-like creatures, lizards, or any other non-human species. You people to to get your science out of the dark ages. IT’S THE 21st CENTURY!!! You people make me laugh.
You are incredibly ignorant and obviously cannot grasp the full concept of evolution. It’s very obvious to see. I do believe we evolved from monkeys (previous bacteria, protozoa, ect.) and we are always changing (not visible from generation to generation, but takes millions of years). Just to let you know, to anyone out there, not just you, the Catholic Church DOES agree with evolution. It has uncondemned Darwin and has accepted the fact that it does occur. It’s belief is that it’s all in God’s plan. My personal, and many other’s people’s takes, is that God created the universe and got it going, and created all the LAWS and PRINCIPLES in the universe and let the world go to act within his laws. So the planet will follow gravity because God wants it to, and it does, and can be explained by newton’s laws and other principles. If you look at it that way, it’s very easy to accept.
We didn’t evolve from monkeys. Humans and monkeys have a common ancestor.
No you’re wrong we evolved from apes, not modern apes but an older extinct ape which evolved from an older extinct monkey etc etc.
People confuse the term “ape” which is used for the Family of animals, where as each member of the family has a more precise name, and the same for monkeys and so on, which seems to have been causing the rise of the “common anscestor” meme, but ironically you seemed to have missed the part about apes being the common ancestor not monkeys.
I don’t think someone’s clothing hurting has anything to do with a lack of body hair, unless there is also another problem causing the sensitivity, in which case the hair isn’t actually the real issue. Body hair also has nothing to do with how dry skin can get, unless you don’t bathe regularly. Also, hair on the human body DOES generally make it easier to feel a bug crawling on you, & that’s something that most people would want to be aware of.
Woah…it’s interesting to see the mutant nature and continual effects of evolution. Seriously, men have uteruses? So…my friend who has three nipples will likely not pass on his genes, right?
“Good find, I liked you comments. Also, Humans share a recent ancestor with chimps, but what did it evolve from? Somewhere in our evolutionary history there are reptiles, fish, bacteria and (i guess) marsupials. My favorite is the third eyelid, dang that would be awesome, but what if it got infected?”
yes, chimps and humans have a common ancestor, but not all animals evolved from all animals. of course, has it has been pointed out, humans didnt evolve from reptiles, but reptiles and humans share a common ancestor. all life comes from a single individual but that doesnt mean single species diferentiated only once from the tree, but that a whole branch of species did. monocelular life existed first, like bacteria, and only then came multicelulars like mammals, fungi, plants, etc.
marsupials are one branch from mammals that got isolated in australia. there is also a big group for africa and a big group for south america. even though mammals, at the time of the separation of the continents, where very diferent from today, they evolved very similarly which is a good example of convergent evolution.
You might want to edit the appendix part. Its not up to date.
“Researchers say they have discovered the purpose of the appendix: It houses and protects some of the body’s good bacteria.”
A “Darwin’s Point” or tubercle is definitely visible. Several members of my family have them, to varying degrees (I have a smallish visible one on my left ear, but my brother had very prominent ones on both). Check the picture on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin's_tubercle
ITâ€™S THE 21st CENTURY!!! Try reading sometime other then the Bible, you may learn something: Like the earth is more then 7000 years old, that no one can be swallowed my a whale (or a large fish) and live to exit it 3 days later; that the earth is not flat; that God can not stop the sun to help his chosen people win a war (it’s the earth that moves not the sun); and that you might try using your stupidity as an argument against evolution. Evolution does not always result in improvements as you clearly prove.
Please forgive the misspelling: “swallowed my” should be “swallowed by”.
You are correct about feeling bugs crawling on you when you have body hair. I’ve found washing my body effective against bugs on my skin. MAYBE hairlessness is a punishment against evil people so that they won’t know about bugs on their skin – check your Bible and let us know.
okay so..im 15 so alot of werdz you said..i didn’t get them n suff.. 😕 so it would help if you explained them alittle more specifically….and by the way..did we really evolve frum munkees?….cuz it scares me. 😯 any hoo. alot of the things you listed were practically greek to me. and btw i have no pinky toes and i walk regular. 🙂
Seriously, you’re fifteen? You’re an idiot. Good God. Plz dum it down. I’m 13 years old, and understood EVERY word in this entire article. You must have been joking, because seriously, when I read your post. I laughed out loud. Who types like that – as well as speaks that way. Your bad spelling and idiocracy was practically greek to me. Here’s what your post would be like in regular English. (But someone that can type and speak well wouldn’t be asking this kind of a question…)
Okay, so, I am fifteen years old and many of the words you stated in your article were quite confusing. I was wondering if you could please explain your findings a little clearer. Are you certain we evolved from monkeys – that’s alarming! As I was saying, many of the things you said left me confused. Moreover, I don’t have a set of ‘pinky’ toes and my stride is completely fine.
I didn’t mean to be incredibly mean about this, but your post just angered me….
To the writer of this article: Great findings! I loved all of the facts! You just made science more enjoyable to me. I already knew a few of these things, but you listed many more than I knew to be obsolete. Thanks!
“okay so..im 15 so alot of werdz you said..i didnâ€™t get them n suff.. 😕 so it would help if you explained them alittle more specificallyâ€¦.and by the way..did we really evolve frum munkees?â€¦.cuz it scares me. 😯 any hoo. alot of the things you listed were practically greek to me. and btw i have no pinky toes and i walk regular. :smile:”
chimps, not munkees, have the same “grand-grand-…-father” and “grand-grand-…-mother” than us. why are you scared about this? it’s not like it’s going to kill you. 😛
The coccyx is believed to be the remnant of a vestigial tail, yes, but it isn’t useless- it serves as an anchor for nine (very important) muscles.
Fantastic post. Came across this through Stumble. It’s quite interesting to read how many ‘useless’ parts we actually have.
never knew we have so many useless parts. thanks for making this interesting list. now, there’s something new to share with my friends! 😀
this is a bunch of shit its not true dont listen to them your scientific matters are so dumpy
The BIBLE?!!! That book is surprisingly more full of holes than the crap on this page, and that’s really saying something.
You have just completely sabotaged your argument. Well done.
Yes, let us be thankful for the magical anti-bug force-field that bathing provides us all. Without it, a bug might end up landing on or crawling on someone. It could really get out of control.
That is great, funny and interesting post. 95% of the things i never heard of: like neck rib, male nipples ( well i seen male breast but nothing produce milk) and male uterus.lol
Stephen Jay Gould spent a creative lifetime (1940-2002) dealing with so-called useless organs, multi-functional organs, alteration of organs (jaws of fishes become bones of mammalian ear), conservatism of embryonic pathways.
One of his books, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, contains an essay which discusses the re-appearance of ancient ancestral traits which are not usually expressed in the modern anatomical forms. Early birds had teeth. Early horses were multi-toed.
Consider that men and women are built on an identical embryonic template until hormones are released which lead to sexual differentiation. So, male nipples are not used, because they do not form part of a normally functional male, but they are not useless in the sense that these tissues under the right hormonal stimulus could have become fully functional breast tissue.
Your list has a sort of gee-whiz effect — ain’t that odd. But, some of the traits you list were adaptations and some were features of embryonic development which had to come along for the ride. For example, even the blind mole rat of the middle eastern deserts forms an eye and a lens (though misshapen) though the eyes are completely covered by skin and hair from birth.
This is an awesome list. I’m always looking for weird stuff like this. Thanks for posting it. I’ve bookmarked it on all the popular sites.
Paunchinesss last blog post..The Chair Fiasco
I think we were born perfect.
Oh, c’mon, are you an idiot? I’m two years younger than you are, and this reads the same as a Simple English Wikipedia article to me.
Also, Ed Smith could drown for all I care; although assuming that everyone who is undereducated is a Christian is stupid. Shame on you, David Almiller.
I think it’s just a limitation of our current understanding to label any part of the anatomy as “useless”. Who can say for certain if vestigal organs serve a hidden purpose that we just haven’t discovered yet (yet the wisdom teeth don’t make much sense to me, to be honest…)
Evolution looks at humans and sees a body littered with left over useless parts. I.D sees a body created and that every part has a purpose. Which is better science? To discover the purpose or say there is no purpose. Evolution in my opinion is holding back science and discovery as the perspective of evolution is when you don’t know what it is it’s just litter. I.D. would say, there is a purpose and a funcion lets find it. I have read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and titles by many other leading evolutionists. I Have a masters degree and am intellegent. I am also a Christian who believes I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
That’s an appeal to emotion, which has no place in science or empiricism. You LIKE the idea that a designer made you because it makes you feel that your life has a purpose – so you prefer to believe it.
And even the people with the highest institutional degrees in the world still let their emotions cloud their judgment. It happens to all of us because we are human and evolved emotions once societies started to evolve. And just as these vestigial body parts, emotions aren’t always a helpful adaptation in our modern society, which we try to form with logic and fairness, rather than vengeance or fear of a death without an afterlife.
By the way…what’s the purpose of the male uterus in ID?
Why do some organisms have wings even when they could live by using legs?
Consider that it can be easier to use legs than to use wings, not the other way around trying to push that the organisms grew wings for improved living. Thanks!
I know old comment but,
It’s easier to catch a dog or a cat or a chicken than a bird that can fly, this alone should be enough evidence that birds that fly are superior for survival, if you are supposing that some birds don’t have a natural predator, perhaps that was not the case until recently (and evolution takes a while), its obvious that humans like to kill shit so perhaps we killed the predators off (and replaced them with cars), evolution takes time, New Zealand had no predators, and was filled with flightless birds since they were the only ones to arrive after it came out of the ocean, so the birds decided to stay, have a big feast and waddle around instead of only pecking at food and flying around, you can literately pick them up off the ground they have no concept of fear because they had nothing to fear, and even one tried to mate with Stephen Fry’s Head.
i broke thumb and the doctor showed me on the x-ray that there is a tumy bome in the hand inbetween the thumb and the first finger that is unused and unattatched to any other bone..
sorry bad spelling i didnt notice
** tiny bone
Excellent. I think this list just provides a critical piece of evidence for a key scientific theory: EVOLUTION. This list just debunks ID/Creationism all to pieces.
It’s very obvious to see. I do believe we evolved from monkeys (previous bacteria, protozoa, ect.) and we are always changing (not visible from generation to generation, but takes millions of years). Just to let you know, to anyone out there, not just you, the Catholic Church DOES agree with evolution. It has uncondemned Darwin and has accepted the fact that it does occur. It’s belief is that it’s all in God’s plan.
Another useless vestige: the foreskin.
Although the appendix is functionally unnecessary in adulthood I remember somewhere someone telling me that it had an important role in post natal development. Essentially infant removal of appendix caused some later physical disfigurement in adulthood. I always found this curious but could never find the paper to discern the validity of this idea. I asked my development lecturer one time but they fobbed me off.