Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Have They Figured Out What the Appendix is For Yet?

In short: no. But they are getting closer, reports the NY Times.

Here's what we (are pretty sure we) know it's not. It's not a leftover of some organ that served our ancestors since other mammals don't have much of an appendix (if any) to speak of.

The leading theory is that it's a backup drive for helpful bacteria. As the Times article suggests, in case the bacteria in your gut is wiped out, say, by a diarrheal infection, the good bacteria in your system could be repopulated by the appendix.

Previously,
Pound360 has been fascinated by the many (potential) benefits that bacteria in your intestines can bring.

Pound360 also
blogged on similar efforts to explain the mystery of the appendix earlier this year.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.