The Creation Wiki is made available by the NW Creation Network
Watch monthly live webcast - Like us on Facebook - Subscribe on YouTube

Vestigial organ

From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science
(Redirected from Vestigial organs)
Jump to: navigation, search
Texas Blind Salamander (Eurycea rathbuni) lost its sight following prolonged habitation without light. It is only found above ground when flowing water from the springs push it to the surface.

Vestigial organs are components of biological systems, which either have reduced function or have become nonfunctional. In some cases, the structure may still be physically observable, but no readily observable use for it has be attained. The existence of "remnant structures" is often cited as proof of Darwinian evolution. It is assumed that the vestige was due to the organism having evolved to a state where it was no longer needed, instead of it simply being unnecessary for the current environment. Creationists, on the otherhand, point out that in most cases these organs are indeed functional, with many being vital only during embryonic development.


Many evolutionists twist the issue and give new definitions to the term vestigial, but many dictionaries give the same basic meaning for the word.

Oxford English Dictionary

According to the Oxford English Dictionary vestigial organs are, “degenerate or atrophied, having become functionless in the course of evolution.”

The World Book Encyclopedia

According to the World Book Encyclopedia 2000, “Vestigial organs are the useless remains of organs that were once useful in an evolutionary ancestor.”

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary says that the word vestigial "describes something, especially a part of the body, that has not developed completely, or has stopped being used and has almost disappeared."[1]



The human cecum and vermiform appendix (process).
Main Article: Appendix

The appendix is perhaps the most often quoted human vestigial organ, and was even presented as evidence during the infamous Scopes trial. However, beginning in the '70s, scientists were beginning to discover that it may indeed have a function. It seems that it contains a high amount of lymphoid follicles, which it can use to control which bacteria come to reside in the colon. This would mean that it may help in early childhood, to protect the host from foreign agents the baby can’t fight off on its normal immune system.

To quote Ken Ham and Carl Wieland:

it is likely that the appendix plays its major role in early childhood. It is also probably involved in helping the body recognize early in life that certain foodstuffs, bacterially derived substances, and even some of the body’s own gut enzymes, need to be tolerated and not seen as ‘foreign’ substances needing attack.[2]

This would explain why it is not needed later on in life.

More recent research has demonstrated that the appendix might also assist in helping the body tolerate the symbiotic bacteria--the intestinal flora--that populate the large intestine beginning early in life. In 2004, Jan-Olaf Gebbers and Jean-Albert Laissue found that as the lymphoid tissue in the appendix continues to develop (generally within two weeks of birth), bacteria are often found within that tissue, either because they invade directly or because the body takes them up on purpose. Gebbers and Laissue speculate that the body uses this "bacterial translocation" to learn what species of microorganisms are friendly and tolerable.[3]

In 2007, William Parker et al. found another possible use of the appendix: to harbor enough samples of the intestinal flora to repopulate the large intestine should the patient suffer a bout of extreme diarrhea, say from cholera or amebic dysentery.[4][5][6][7] Parker and his colleagues speculate that this function of the appendix might not be necessary in a highly industrialized society, where cholera and dysentery are far less common--but they also point to other studies that show that the incidence of appendicitis is far higher in industrialized countries than in non-industrialized countries. This latest finding has caused sharp debate in medical and scientific circles, especially because the appendix is found chiefly in humans, primates, and rabbits, but not in most other mammals.[8]

Mercola,[9] commenting on the research of Parker et al. and the New York Times article reporting it, specifically condemns the removal of the appendix without a definite indication such as acute appendicitis. He points out that the removal of the appendix might increase the risk of Crohn's Disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy).[10] He also quotes Parker in lamenting the current state of funding availability for the type of experiment that could offer definitive proof of the usefulness of the appendix:[4]

[A]n experiment to prove this theory would be very expensive. And in any case, why would you want to spend money to find out something that is not likely to help cure a disease?

Furthermore, Mercola adds this pithy rejection of the very concept of a vestigial organ:[9]

I don’t believe human beings are born with any unnecessary parts that can be thoughtlessly removed as an aside during surgery.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third molars on each side of the human maxilla and mandible. The origin of the name wisdom tooth is unknown, but many science and medical writers speculate that the name came from their tendency not to erupt until the patient is well beyond puberty and almost a legal adult, therefore "wise."[12] They sometimes become impacted and cause moderate to severe pain upon their late eruption. Until recently, the most common recommendation in dental practice was to remove them.[13][14][15][16]

Evolutionists like to speculate that wisdom teeth are now vestigial either because the human jaw became smaller relative to the human cranium during the course of evolution, or because improved dental hygiene in industrialized societies now makes the wisdom teeth worse than superfluous. The latter theory states that, in the past, humans tended to lose many of their teeth to decay or to excessive wear during childhood and young adulthood (the age range called "adolescence" today), and the wisdom tooth was a kind of "reserve tooth" ready to replace the lost teeth at or about the age of eighteen.[13][14][16]

The view that the human jaw has "evolved" to be smaller than the primeval primate jaw from which, according to the evolutionary view, the human jaw derives, is subject to challenge on many fronts.[13] Chief among these is that no evolutionist has yet described how a smaller jaw would confer a survival advantage upon humans. Furthermore, the human third molar is proportionately smaller than the third molars in other primates.

This would leave the "redundant reserve" theory. But even if this is so, one cannot blame the problems that wisdom teeth often cause on evolutionary change. Creationists do not dispute that the human diet has changed from a coarse, abrasive diet to a softer one--but whether this in and of itself is a healthy change remains to be seen.[13]

More to the point, the removal of wisdom teeth often creates complications, regardless of when in the course of the patient's life a dentist undertakes such removal. One recent study concluded that only in a minority of cases do wisdom teeth create a problem upon eruption, and that the costs for the routine or "prophylactic" removal of all wisdom teeth would be prohibitive for any society and produce little or no individual or social benefit. Most patients who still possess their wisdom teeth ought to leave them in place, unless they cause pain, malocclusion, or other untoward result.[13]

Pineal Gland

To quote Carl Wieland:

Many evolutionary texts would still class the pineal gland as vestigial on account of its having no apparent function (although its function in other mammals is not better known) The pineal is a small gland, about the size of a cherry-stone, which sits between the two hemispheres of the brain posteriorly, in the groove between the two superior colliculi of the mid-brain.

Wieland goes on to cite many important functions that scientists have discovered that this gland performs:

  1. It regulates several other important glands, including the pituitary gland itself--and also the adrenal glands, the thyroid gland, and the gonads.
  2. It plays some role, not yet well understood, in maintaining the circadian rhythm, or the day-night cycle of the body.
  3. It plays some role, again not well understood, in the development and growth of come cancers.
  4. It affects the ability of involuntary muscles to contract, and the force of that contraction.

Central to these functions is the production of melatonin, of which the pineal gland is the only known source.[17]


They are masses of lymphatic tissue in the pharynx. The tonsils, while once considered a vestigial organ, play a major role in the immune system. It is now known today that the tonsils are the first line of defense against foreign pathogens, and tonsillectomies are performed only by necessity because of this.

"Fewer tonsillectomies are performed today than in the past because it is now known that the tonsils remove many of the pathogens that enter the pharynx; therefore, they are a first line of defense against invasion of the body" Inquiry into Life 10th edition, Mader, McGraw Hill, copyright 2003 p293

Laryngeal Nerve

One thing that has puzzled secular biologists is the position of the Laryngeal Nerve. It can be found in the chest, looping around a lung and then going to the larynx or the voice box. Some ask “why?”. Why not take a more direct path to the larynx?

While there is much work to be done to discover why, some speculate that it may have something to do with the aorta‘s diameter.

Giant Rat-kangaroo Teeth

In a 2001 nature report, some scientists claimed that the second premolar of the giant rat-kangaroo , which is extinct, not(Ekaltadeta ima) was actually vestigial. It was argued that it could be held up there with the panda’s thumb. Of course we must separate one person interpretation from real data. The same article also claims that the same teeth are capable of crushing mass amounts. This is hardly vestigial and there is no good reason to believe it is.[18]

Horse’s Leg Bones

The reason why horse's leg bones are spilt is not because they are vestigial, but help dampen the intense vibrations made when the foot hits the ground. Without this vital feature, the horse's legs would be damaged quite quickly.

The work some what like a kangaroo. The tendons spanning several joints return 93% pf the energy stored in their stretching.[19]

The Panda’s Thumb

Believe or not, the panda’s thumb does have an actual use. The two extra-digits (often called thumbs) are used to handle and eat bamboo. The panda uses a pincer-like movement of the “thumbs” to grasp the bamboo, thus if they didn’t exist, the panda would starve or have a very hard time eating its food

The three-dimensional images we obtained indicate that the radial sesamoid bone cannot move independently of its articulated bones, as has been suggested, but rather acts as part of a functional unit of manipulation. The radial sesamoid bone and the accessory carpal bone form a double pincer-like apparatus ... enabling the panda to manipulate objects with great dexterity ... We have shown that the hand of the giant panda has a much more refined grasping mechanism than has been suggested in previous morphological models. (Dr. Endo.[20] )

Biblical Account

The bible teaches that all animals were herbivorous before the flood. To test this theory we can look at the fossil record and living species to find recessive and recurring organs that support the biblical account. Bird fossils are found with teeth, which would be necessary for them to chew plant matter. Evolutionists claim that the teeth provide evidence of common ancestry from theropod dinosaurs. A closer look at the evidence reveals that their teeth are not homologous.

The well-known ornithologists L. D. Martin, J. D. Stewart, and K. N. Whetstone observed that Archeopteryx and other similar birds have are not serrated teeth with constricted bases and expanded roots. Yet the teeth of theropod dinosaurs, the alleged ancestors of these birds, had serrated teeth with straight roots. It stands to reason that the teeth of birds became recessive vestiges after changing their diet.

Another example is an extinction experiment[1] on lizards. In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru. To their surprise, the lizards not only survived, but underwent incredibly rapid morphological changes. Among those changes were cecal valves, designed to slow the passage of food by creating fermentation chambers in the gut, where microbes can break down the difficult to digest portion of plants. These types of genetic vestiges are predicted by the Creation model if all animals were herbivores before the flood of Noah. It also demonstrates that the morphological variation of these animals can change within decades instead of millions of years predicted by Evolutionists.


  1. "Definition of 'Vestigial'," Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  2. Ham, Ken, and Wieland, Carl, "Your's there for a reason," Creation, 20(1):41-42, December, 1997. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  3. Gebbers, Jan-Olaf, and Laissue, Jean-Albert. "Bacterial Translocation in the Normal Human Appendix Parallels the Development of the Local Immune System." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1029:337-343, 2004. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bollinger, R. Randal, Barbas, Andrew S., Bush, Errol L., Lin, Shu S., and Parker, William. "Biofilms in the Large Bowel Suggest an Apparent Function of the Human Vermiform Appendix." Journal of Theoretical Biology, 249(4):826-31, December 21, 2007.
  5. Merritt, Richard, media rep. "Appendix Isn't Useless at All: It's a Safe House for Bacteria." Duke Medical News, October 8, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  6. Authors unknown. "Purpose of appendix believed found." Associated Press, October 5, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007, from <>.
  7. Bakalar, Nicholas. "Helpful Bacteria May Hide In Appendix." The New York Times, June 17, 2008. Accessed July 8, 2008.
  8. See, for example: MacKenzie, Debora, "The appendix: good for something after all," New Scientist, October 10, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mercola, Joseph, DO. "Helpful Bacteria May Be Hiding In Your Appendix." <> June 17, 2008. Accessed July 8, 2008.
  10. Mercola, Joseph, DO. "Appendectomy May Increase Risk of Crohn's Disease." <>, February 1, 2003. Accessed July 8, 2008.
  11. Mercola's observation is all the more remarkable because Mercola is not a creationist. He has, however, decided that human beings are born with parts that have stood the test of time, and the results of that test deserve respect.
  12. Wisdom teeth by Wikipedia. Cited by Hein, Susan M., "Susan Heim on Parenting," August 17, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Bergman, Jerry. "Are wisdom teeth (third molars) vestiges of human evolution?" TJ 12(3):297-304, December, 1998
  14. 14.0 14.1 Cooper, Rachele. "Why do we have wisdom teeth?" ScienceLine, February 5, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  15. Bunn, Steven T., DDS. "About Wisdom Teeth." DrBunn Online, retrieved October 17, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Authors unknown. "Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs)."', retrieved October 17, 2007.
  17. Wieland, Carl, "The Pineal gland--not a useless relic after all", Ex Nihilo 2(1):17, January, 1979.
  18. Wroe, S., "The Killer Rat-Kangaroo’s Tooth," Nature Australia 27(1):28–31, Winter 2001.
  19. Wilson, A.M. et al., "Horses damp the spring in their step", Nature 414(6866):895–899, 20/27 December 2001.
  20. Endo, H. and five others, 1999. "Role of the giant panda’s ‘pseudo-thumb.’" Nature 397(6717):309—310.

External links

See Also