Saturday, October 6, 2007

Now if they'd just do their own research instead of appropriating the research of real scientists

Any bets as to how long until intelligent design propagandists proclaim this as "proof" of intelligent design?
The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system, according to an online report in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. There are more bacteria than human cells in the typical body. Most bacteria are good and help digest food.

But the flora in the intestines sometimes die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix's job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.

The appendix "acts as a good safe house for bacteria," said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a co-author of the study. Its location — just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac — helps support the theory, he said.

Also, the worm-shaped organ outgrowth acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating good germs, Parker said.

That use is not needed in a modern industrialized society, Parker said. If a person's gut flora die, they usually can repopulate it easily with germs they pick up from other people, he said.

But before dense populations in modern times and during epidemics of cholera that affected a whole region, it wasn't as easy to grow back that bacteria and the appendix came in handy.

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