Not every part of the human body has a role. Because of the evolution and our lifestyle changes throughout millions of years, some parts of our body that once served a specific function have now become virtually useless. There are even few that has no real purpose at all. These are called “vestigial organs.”
1. Coccyx or tailbone
Our ancestors millions of years ago used to balance their gaits by using their tails. Obviously, as humans learned to walk with two legs, the tail became useless and is now fused to the end of the vertebral column, which is now the coccyx or the tailbone.
2. Male nipples
Why do men have nipples? Well, it starts all the way from the womb — basically, every fetus began as a female, and the nipples appeared already even before the gender was determined. When the Y chromosomes testosterone begins to work its way, it will lead to the development of the male sex organs, which eventually take over the female ones. Yes, you read it right — every one of us, including guys, started out as females, and the male nipple is a vestige of the men’s former female selves in the womb.
It is interesting to note that although the instances are very rare, men can lactate and even suffer from breast cancer.
3. Wisdom teeth
Over time, the human jaw has become smaller that our mouths won’t have any room for more teeth to grow. There are many other factors (such as poor dental hygiene) why wisdom teeth occur in many individuals. And we all know very well that wisdom teeth are unbearably painful for some people, especially when they’re pulled off.
Our evolving diets and eating habits are most likely to blame on why the appendix has played virtually no part in our digestive system. According to scientists, the appendix may have served a function when our ancestors’ diet was made up of plants and lots of roughage. The appendix nurtures bacteria — the good ones, that is — which keep the gut healthy and free from infections brought about by eating raw foods.
As you can see in certain animals such as rabbits, their appendices are rather large, simply because they are utilized to the hilt. They greatly help in the digestion of indigestible matter (like fiber) in plants, grasses and even wood. It could be that our ancestors’ appendices used to be large too.
Nowadays, we eat a lot of cooked and processed foods, which has rendered the appendix to shrink and become obsolete. A lot of people believe that the virtual uselessness of the appendix has caused it to become infected and inflamed, which unfortunately leads itself to be ruptured. This condition, commonly called appendicitis, happens to one in every fifteen people in the world.
5. Body hair and goose bumps
Our ancestors used to be really hairy. Their copious body hair would automatically stand stiff and erect whenever they were being confronted or threatened, making them appear bigger and more intimidating. Nowadays though, does a body hair serve any decent purpose at all?
6. Darwin’s tubercle (or Darwin’s point)
Darwin’s tubercle or Darwin’s point is a small fold of skin in the outer part of the ear. It is a congenital condition, and it is more common among many Europeans and Native Americans. Some people claim that having this body part is a sign of intelligence. Although it is not sure what was the former purpose of Darwin’s point, scientists suggest that the extra skin may have been a joint that allowed the ear to wiggle. Some animals have this feature too, which they flop or swivel in order for them to hear better. Maybe some people with Darwin’s tubercle can wiggle their ears, but it doesn’t do much to improve their hearing.