Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Elephant’s extra “toe”: Another “vestigial organ” bites the dust – in this case, literally

arroba Email

In “Elephant’s sixth ‘toe’ discovered” (BBC News, December 22,2011) Rebecca Morelle reports,

For more than 300 years, the structure has puzzled researchers, but this study suggests that it helps to support elephants’ colossal weight.

Fossils reveal that this “pre-digit” evolved about 40 million years ago, at a point when early elephants became larger and more land-based.

But it is actually inside the foot.

Many people, he said, thought that the structure was a huge lump of cartilage, and over the years its purpose or lack of purpose has been debated.

It is actually a bone and it helps the elephant stand up.

When the final tally of vestigial organs is done, if ever, one wonders how few there will turn out to be.

See also: They knew the human appendix did a job sixty years ago, actually (but it was too good an a=example of a “vestigial organ” to pass up, even so)

As the expanded sesamoid of elephants seems to have been always considered to be apomorphic, it puzzles me how could anyone have said it is a vestigial character. Got any reference for that, News? I can't get through the Science paywall right now. Geoxus
And for the umpteenth time, organs do not have to be nonfunctional in order to qualify as vestigial. For example, the "ear-wagging" muscles are vestigial even though some people are still able to move their ears. champignon
News, You really need to educate yourself on the meaning of 'vestigial'. The elephant's sixth 'toe' is not vestigial; it's the exact opposite. champignon

Leave a Reply