Sort of Makes Sense, Too
We all knew a kid in school who mysteriously missed a few days, then returned bragging about how he had been able to stay in the hospital all day and watch tv while we were completing our studies. "Oh, I just had my appendix out," he would say, waving his hand as if to say, "No big deal."
Well, it is a big deal, with a burst appendix high on the list of things that could cause you serious problems. A lot of people used to have them taken out routinely, the thinking being, "better safe than sorry." Nowadays, it is more fashionable to just leave it in unless it actually causes you problems, the thinking having reversed to the point where folks feel that, simply because we don't really know what it's for, it might be important enough to keep.
Fortunately, scientists at long last think they finally have figured out nature's true rationale behind the tiny "vestigial" appendix.
Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center now say that the appendix serves acts as a safe house for good bacteria, which can be used to effectively reboot the gut following a bout of dysentery or cholera. Those diseases could purge your gut, and if you don't have any backups for those little guys, you'd die of starvation.
That actually used to be the case. Over time, though, our systems became a little less specialized. Now, the same bacteria lives throughout our digestive tracts, not just in the gut. Thus, there is no longer any need for a "backup." The good guys can just swim upstream and get back in there. Or, at least, that is what researchers currently think.
So, that smarmy little friend of yours who ate all that ice cream in the hospital bed while you were listening to your teacher drone on and on and on about the Civil War can rest easy. He really didn't need that nasty little appendix - they think.