We should not always assume that every human development has an adaptive explanation. Because of the complexity of evolution, the human body still sustains a few reminisce of our ancient lives. Here are some useless human body parts that serve very little or no purpose in our survival.
When primitive humans were largely food gatherers vegetarians, the appendix helped in the digestion of food. Located in a pouch like structure between large and the small intestine, the appendix basically assisted the latter in digesting cellulose and possibly also produced white blood cells. Though lying dormant, the appendix can causes a host of problems like it can get infected causing appendicitis – an inflammation of the appendix. It causes abdominal pain, decreased appetite, nausea etc but most of the time people don’t have the symptoms.
Otherwise called the tailbone, it’s believed to the remnant of our pre-historic ancestor’s body part. Also found in Apes, the Coccyx is the final hanging segment of our vertebral column. It is comprised of three to five rudimentary vertebrae.
So why exactly did we need a tail in ancient time? Scientist believe that the tail helped in communicating and balancing our structure but since we humans learned to walk upright, the tail slowly ceased to exist leaving only a speck of reminder hanging useless. But despite the removal of the tailbone is quiet a task since it’s attached to a number of intricate ligaments, muscles and tendons.
Human sinuses are basically air-filled spaces found surrounding the nasal cavity in our face. What is the purpose of their existence now is subjected to much debate but when infected our sinuses causes much pain. Previously the paranasal sinuses were responsible for our heightened sense of smell that allowed our ancestors to hunt on daily basis and survive. However some believe paranasal sinuses serves a few possible functions like increase resonance of our voice, regulate pressure, lighten the weight in the front of our skull etc. Inflammation of the sinuses causes nasal irrigation and can even lead to cancer.
Other than the mass of tissue situated at either side at the back of the human throat, there are a number of other tonsils like the adenoid tonsil, two palatine tonsils, the lingual tonsil and two tubal tonsils. Tonsils help in protecting the throat from inhaling foreign pathogens and against indigestion but most of the time they prove to be more dangerous than beneficial. Tonsils are very much prone to infections that may lead to a host of problems and may require surgical removal sometimes.
6Arrector Pili Muscles
The arrector pili muscle causes the phenomenon we commonly refer to as goose bumps. There are small muscles attached to our hair follicles which when contracts causes the hair to stand up. In most animals the goose bumps are a defence mechanism. When in fear the hair ends rise up to make them look bigger in hopes of deterring predators. The arrector pili muscles cannot be consciously controlled. Some experts have come up with one purpose for the contraction of the muscles and their legitimacy of staying in our body is that the ejected hair helps trap and retain hot air inside our body. But since human body has relatively very less hair to allow thermal insulation, the argument kind of falls flat.
Also called the third molar it’s developed between the ages of 17 and 25. According to researchers, the out-of-place wisdom tooth was useful to our ancestors for grinding down on plant tissues. But today our skulls have become smaller and the number of teeth has gone down because they are no longer required. The change of the diet still couldn’t get rid of the third molar or wisdom teeth completely. It’s a painful procedure to remove an infected wisdom tooth.
4Palmaris Longus Muscles
A completely useless muscle that stretches between the flexor carpi ulnaris and the flexor carpi radialis. About 14% of the world population has no Palmaris Longus muscles but that doesn’t affect their grip strength. This long, narrow muscle was once useful when our ancestors had to climb with hands. One can feel the muscles while flexing the wrist and touching the pads of the thumb and the fifth finger. It can be felt palpitating, which is why sometimes medical students mistake it for a nerve.
3Plica Semilunaris of Conjunctiva
Plica semilunaris is also called the third eyelid, located in the corner of our eye next to our tear duct. It’s a small folded fragment seen prominently when we move our eyes. The Plica semilunaris is said to help the eye maintain tear drainage and also allows free rotation of our eyes. Without the Plica semilunaris our eye would limited movements because the eyeball will be attached directly to the conjunctiva. But even then its role is quiet restricted because of its tiny size. Moreover the existence of the Plica semilunaris is not absolutely necessary for our survival.
The Subclavius Muscle is small triangular thick tendon that stretches between our first rib and our collarbone. Lying beneath our shoulders, the muscle helps carry our shoulders forward and downward, depress our shoulders. Subclavius Muscle was useful when primitive humans walked on all four but today it pretty much of no good use. The muscle is not found in everyone, some have only one, some two and some none at all.
Nipple develops in a foetus even before the gender is determined. It’s only on its 6th week that the male hormones such as testosterone start to take shape. At this point the male nipples stop to develop further but sometimes fat tissues accumulate around the nipple making them swell and become seemingly similar to female breasts. In pubescent boys, high levels of estrogen can also lead to swelling around the nipple making them looking larger. Though functionless, male nipples are pretty sensitive and can develop breast cancer.