If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place?
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?
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You asked us, "If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place?"
 
Well, just because you don't need your appendix, doesn't mean it's useless.
 
Now for a long time people thought it was and Charles Darwin theorized the appendix was a shriveled, leftover organ used by early humans to help digest leaves. That's been the predominant thinking up until recently.
 
But that's the great thing about science, where everyone thinks one thing and then someone else says, "Hey, I've a better explanation."
 
A team of researchers did just that and wondered if it's not so much what the appendix does, but what it can hold.
 
See, our bodies are like an apartment building. And we have tenants living inside of us. These tenants are bacteria. In fact, there's about 10 times more bacteria in and on our bodies, than our actual cells.
 
But like all good tenants, they pay rent. The bacteria in our gut help us digest food, manufacture vitamins, even help our immune system. That's right, bacteria in our bodies help our immune system fight other bacteria.
 
But sometimes invading bacteria get the best of our immune system and we get sick. Like, cholera sick or dysentery sick.  
 
Not be gross, but we're talking life-threatening, never-ending diarrhea sick.
 
In cases like this, all your good gut bacteria could be washed out, unless they had a place to hunker down, like the appendix.
 
Scientists theorize the appendix acts as a reserve, where good bacteria can hide until the illness is over and then re-emerge and repopulate the gut. And go right back to helping us out.
 
Now you may not be that familiar with diseases like cholera or dysentery, and that's 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.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/if-we-dont-need-appendix-why-it-there-first-place/

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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 (66)
  • jacks-6-bar
    12/10/2015 - 10:58 p.m.

    The article states "Scientists theorize the appendix acts as a reserve, where good bacteria can hide until the illness is over and then re-emerge and repopulate the gut." However, these life threatening illnesses they speak of are mostly gone. Our modern world has vaccines and cures for these sorts of things. Also, Cholera and Dysentery (2 of the illnesses mentioned in the article) are mostly caused by contaminated things, such as dirty food or water. The present, being sanitary and clean overall, is mostly rid of those diseases. In old times, no cures were invented nor was the world quite as spotless as today. Many suffered and sadly died from the life-threatining diseases because there world was more or less filthy. "...all your good gut bacteria could be washed out…" says the article, displaying what would happen if the powerful bacteria did indeed enter one's immune system (and this was common back then). An appendix was necessary back in those days because bacteria needed to take refuge in it to be kept from the non-beneficial bacteria. However, today being, again, mostly rid of those kinds of diseases, being so clean and having cures, bacteria don't need to take refuge in the first place; there is almost no bacteria that is considerably common strong enough now to completely "wash out" the good bacteria. They are able to stay where they are and not retreat from much of anything. Not needing to move to the appendix, the organ simply doesn't have any use to humans in today's world, housing bacteria in trouble being its only purpose.
    The article was intriguing, learning that there is something in our bustling body not even needed. It interested me for what it was for in actuality; a refuge for one's beneficial bacteria in trouble

  • caitlynk-2-bar
    12/10/2015 - 11:12 p.m.

    We are able to live without our appendix today because, as in the text, it quotes "So in today's high tech world, you can live just fine without your appendix." We can live without our appendix because of today's technology. Such as, medicine so instead of our good bacteria fighting off the bad bacteria we have medicine to do that instead. This article was interesting because it showed the reader the importance of an organ humans didn't think had a use. This article surprised me because it showed me how if you dig a little deeper on something youmay be able to find something you didn't know.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    12/10/2015 - 11:42 p.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix today because of our modern sewage system gets rid of diseases like cholera or dysentery. This is because when these diseases attack us our good bacteria hides away in the appendix until the sickness is gone but we do not have these diseases anymore so bacteria does not need to hide. In the article it shows this by,"All your good gut bacteria could be washed out, unless they had a place to hunker down, like the appendix...Now you may not be that familiar with diseases like cholera or dysentery, and that's 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." I think this article is interesting because I never knew the purpose of the appendix and always that it was completely useless.

  • oliviam-6-bar
    12/11/2015 - 12:20 a.m.

    The number one reason that people can live without an appendix today is because we do not need it as much as we used too before modern medicine. The article says "all your good gut bacteria could be washed out, unless they had a place to hunker down" This is were the appendix comes in. It acts as a bidding spot for bacteria so that it can hide from harmful bacteria.

    In todays society, because of modern medicine, we do not have as meany diseases to hide from. This quote states "modern sewage systems have largely done away with" Therefore, our bacteria does not need to hide out in the appendix.

  • maddiei-orv
    12/11/2015 - 12:36 a.m.

    Both of what the appendix could be make sense in their own way, but clearly we don't need it anymore because of modern technology and science. If we could figure out and be a hundred percent sure of what the appendix really does maybe we could have a better understanding of early humans and how their life was like.

  • sofiat-4-bar
    12/11/2015 - 01:08 a.m.

    We are able to live without an Appendix today because earlier on it was used to keep out diseases and protect the body from it but mainly ones such as these "Now you may not be that familiar with diseases like cholera or dysentery, and that's because modern sewage systems have largely done away with them." Now a days we are able to remain healthy and keep away diseases without the appendix, mainly becasue of modern day medicine and technology.

  • michaely-6-bar
    12/11/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix because, due to the improved living conditions of the modern world. the article stated this about diseases,diseases such as cholera and dysentery were common before, when systems were not as clean and safe as they are today. I think this is amazing that someone can still live without an appendix. This is really a life saver for people who don't have an appendix.

  • carlym-4-bar
    12/11/2015 - 11:03 a.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix today because of our new technology in the modern wolrd. It says, "So in today's high tech world, you can live just fine without your appendix."
    I enjoyed this quote because I have always been curious about why I have an appendix.

  • avab-4-bar
    12/11/2015 - 11:09 a.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix because of improved living conditions in the modern world

    This article surprised me because I had this same question when I was diagnosed with appendisitis a couple weeks ago. If it causes so much trouble and pain to some why do we still need it if we could live without it?

  • hxin-wim
    12/11/2015 - 12:59 p.m.

    We are able to live without an appendix today because of the much improved world. In the article it says that diseases such as cholera and dysentery were common. These diseases were caused by dirty sewage systems. These diseases killed the good bacteria. The appendix provided safety for these bacteria. Now, we have cleaner sewage systems. The diseases are not dangerous anymore. This is why we can live without an appendix.

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