It is a popular urban myth, especially amongst the Christian fundamentalists who do not believe in evolution, that the appendix (the thing attached to your caecum, not the stuff at the end of books) is not a vestigial organ.

The appendix does not serve any endocrine function in the foetus. While the appendix does contain lymphoid tissue, it does so in amounts that are not significantly greater amount than other parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Children who have had appendices removed have not been shown to have any significant worsening of the maturation of their immune system.

Having an appendectomy done can lead to other long term sequelae, including the development of adhesions causing bowel obstruction in later life, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of the appendix itself but rather to the type of the operation; adhesions are a complication of all intra-peritoneal surgery where the bowel is handled.


Sources: my medical textbooks and conversations with surgeons.


Anatomically, the appendix is a blind end that is attached to your colon at your caecum. In some people, this tissue can get terribly inflamed causing appendicitis.

Warning: Blatant spoilers of Red Dwarf follow.

David Lister, star of Red Dwarf, has two of these strange and mysterious things. Apparently, it was "Red Dwarf's most beloved continuity error" (unknown) when it happened.

It all started with Series 2's Thanks for the Memory. When Rimmer had some of Lister's memory, he mentioned having his appendix out twice, indicating that both men had had theirs removed. However, in Series 6, Legion takes Lister's appendix out also - on-screen this time. Hm.

One fan theory was that it was rebuilt when Lister's body was rebuilt in Series 4's episode DNA. However, Doug Naylor, after a falling out with Rob Grant, wrote "Last Human" and pointed out that Lister was born with two appendices. This raises a question after watching Series 7's Ouroboros: since we find out that Lister is his own father (which, even after watching it a million times, still confuses me) then how did Lister get the second appendix? Is this a sign that all is not quite what it seems? Is Lister, in fact, truly some kind of God, as pointed out in Series 1's Waiting For God? It also raises the chicken and egg problem: did baby Lister come first, or adult Lister? What the hell is going on? Is there going to be a ninth series, and if so, will it explain all of this crap? Doug, I need answers!

But back to the appendix. It is indeed mankind's most useless organ. A cul-de-sac of squishy stuff. I once thought that it may have been somehow connected to the umbilical cord, but realised that its position in the body is not close enough to human bellybuttons. Rats.

And the struggle for an answer continues...

Ap*pen"dix (&?;), n.; pl. E. Appendixes (&?;), L. Appendices (&?;). [L. appendix, -dicis, fr. appendere. See Append.]

1.

Something appended or added; an appendage, adjunct, or concomitant.

Normandy became an appendix to England.
Sir M. Hale.

2.

Any literary matter added to a book, but not necessarily essential to its completeness, and thus distinguished from supplement, which is intended to supply deficiencies and correct inaccuracies.

Syn. -- See Supplement.

 

© Webster 1913


Ap*pen"dix, n.

The vermiform appendix.

 

© Webster 1913

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