If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place? (Thinkstock)
If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place?
Lexile

You asked us a question. "If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place?"
 
Just because you don't need your appendix, does not mean it is useless.
 
For a long time people thought it was. Charles Darwin thought the appendix was shriveled. He thought it was a leftover organ. He figured it was used by early humans to help digest leaves. That has been the main way of thinking until recently.
 
That is the great thing about science. Sometimes everyone thinks one thing. And then someone else says, "Hey, I have a better explanation."
 
A team of researchers did just that. They wondered if it is not so much what the appendix does, but what it can hold.
 
Our bodies are like an apartment building. We have tenants living inside of us. These tenants are bacteria. There is about 10 times more bacteria in and on our bodies than in our actual cells.
 
But like all good tenants, they pay rent. The bacteria in our gut help us digest food. They help us make vitamins. Bacteria even help our immune system. That's right. Bacteria in our bodies helps our immune system fight other bacteria.
 
Sometimes invading bacteria get the best of our immune system. And then we get sick. Like, cholera sick or dysentery sick.  
 
We are not trying to be gross. But we are talking life-threatening, never-ending diarrhea sick.
 
In cases like this, all your good gut bacteria could be washed out. That is unless they have a place to hunker down. Like the appendix.
 
Scientists think the appendix acts as a reserve. It is where good bacteria can hide until the illness is over. Then they re-emerge. And they repopulate the gut. It can go right back to helping us out.
 
You may not be that familiar with diseases like cholera or dysentery. That is because modern sewage systems have largely done away with them.
 
So in today's high tech world, you can live just fine without your appendix.
 
But you never know. Maybe sometime in the future, another scientist will have a better explanation.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are we able to live without an appendix today?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (15)
  • jolenec-bel
    12/09/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    We can live without an appendix today because they have treated us well when we were born and we got medical treatment for when your older.

  • ashleyc-bel
    12/09/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix today because the bacteria in out gut helps us digest food.

  • silverc-bel
    12/09/2015 - 02:09 p.m.

    There is some treatments that can help instead of the appendix.

  • sarahj-bel
    12/09/2015 - 02:10 p.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix because we have doctors who can help with your appendix if something went wrong.

  • jeffyboy246-
    12/10/2015 - 11:01 a.m.

    Because we really do not need them scientists are working on sewage cleaners so it get all the bacteria out of where we gwt the appendix.

  • kerlousd-mor
    12/21/2015 - 11:35 a.m.

    because its a left over organ that's in our body that we don't need in our body or life so without it we could live cause it a left over organ and leftover means its it's an extra bone in our body that we don't need and it's like a kidney we could donate it and still live without it

  • nonax-tam
    1/05/2016 - 01:16 p.m.

    why does people say they don't need appendix.

  • evanterrell-bak
    2/16/2016 - 07:48 p.m.

    I didn't know you could live without your appendix!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wilsoash3-dil
    2/18/2016 - 03:20 p.m.

    "In cases like this, all your good gut bacteria could be washed out. That is unless they have a place to hunker down. Like the appendix."

  • rainam1-col
    3/07/2016 - 07:03 p.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix because the diseases when you need your appendix are rather rare, and they can be cured artificaly.

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