Brain Post: 5 Things on Your Body You’ll Never Use

Miles Clark | | BrainsBrains
Goosebumps on a homo sapiens

It’s bizarre to think that the human body is full of vestigial organs and features that we don’t use anymore.  Modern humans are a living snapshot of evolution in motion.  We are so on the cusp of some evolutionary features like wisdom teeth, that some people don’t have them anymore and some do.  Learn about a few other interesting vestigial features on your amazing human body.

1.  GOOSEBUMPS (Cutis Anserina)

– Goose bumps happen when you’re scared, angry, cold, or in awe.  Many mammals get goosebumps in the same manner (dogs, cats, bears, etc).  When an animal is frightened, it’s goosebumps fire, raise it’s body hair on end, and make it appear bigger in an attempt to scare off it’s opponent.  When an animal is cold the goosebumps activate and raise the hairs up to trap more air between fur and skin, warming the animal in the process.  Humans no longer benefit from either of these devices.  When we get goosebumps, we don’t look any bigger (in fact you might appear weaker because your opponent will know you’re scared) and they certainly don’t warm us up due to our lack of hair.

The human appendix
The human appendix


– The appendix comes off your large intestine in your abdomen’s lower right quadrant.  Darwin suggested that it was used earlier in human evolution to assist in the processing of cellulose from the many plants we once consumed.  Most scientists agree with that suggestion.  Over time, our diet has changed and the appendix lost it’s usefulness.  Ironically, natural selection has selected for larger appendices because they are less likely to become inflamed and diseased (appendicitis).  So, you’ve got a large goofy thingamagigger hangin’ off your colon that keeps getting bigger, but has zero function.

The human coccyx
The human coccyx

3.  COCCYX – We once had a tail

– Yep, we used to have a tail.  You might be kinda bummed you don’t still have one.  Well, don’t be too bummed, it’s still there.  My mom is a neonatal nurse and it still happens that human babies are born with little tails.  No biggie.  They just cut it off shortly after your born and no one ever knows (yep, you mighta had a tail…).  The coccyx is the remnant of your leftover tail.  A long time ago we had tails, now it’s just a little thing that muscles attach to, that you sit on, and it supports the position of the anus.

Wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth


– Humans used to eat heaps of plants (Aussie shout out).  So many that it was important for us to have an extra set of molars to grind up plants and break up the tough cellulose in them to get enough nutrients each day (no fat people back then).  Over time our diets changed, our jaws got shorter, and our 3rd set of molars became obsolete.  Some people have even completely stopped growing wisdom teeth.  Evolution in front of your eyes.

darwin’s point

5.  DARWIN’S EAR POINT (plica semilunaris) – That little bump on your upper ear

– Darwin’s point is found on most mammals including us.  It likely focuses sounds in animals but has lost it’s function with humans.  10% of us still have Darwin’s points the are readily visible.  Most all of us carry the gene responsible for this point.  It’s basically just a little thickening where the upper ear meets the middle ear.

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