New research suggests appendix may serve a function

02/13/2013 |

The appendix, long believed to serve no purpose, has evolved at least 32 times in mammals, suggesting that the organ may still play a role in our bodily functions when a serious infection strikes. The study, published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol, analyzed the diets of 361 mammals, plotting the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree to track the correlation between the appendix and a mammal's change in diet. Scientists speculate the appendix may serve as a "safe house" for beneficial bacteria to hide in if our bodies suffer a major infection, but other experts argue more studies are needed to reach a final conclusion.

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