Get a look at this item from The Scientist :
For decades, researchers and marine fisheries managers have considered the adipose fin—a small protuberance between the dorsal and tail fins—a vestigial organ, a relic of a bygone evolutionary era. But a study published today (March 5) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that bony versions of these structures have evolved independently and from more than one ancestor, suggesting that the adipose fin could play a subtle, yet vital, as-yet unidentified role in fish.
Then there’s “Elephant’s extra “toe”: Another “vestigial organ” bites the dust – in this case, literally
Your appendix: The king of vestigial organs has a job again
Is the term retained so people can attract attention to a new article by pointing out that such and so was thought to be vestigial but really isn’t? Or is the term itself a vestige of Darwinism? Perhaps it is itself the only example of the idea?
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Hatchery salmon have their adipose fin clipped off(under sedation), to distinguish them from wild salmon, who are protected. If the fin is not vestigial, maybe this isn’t such a good idea:
67 Replies to “Is “vestigial organ” a term that should be retired?”
Darwinists here in previous posts still seem to defend the term with great passion even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.
My beef is that they claim things are “vestigial,” implying that they are sure that there’s no function for what they claim is an evolutionary artifact, when the truth is that they don’t know. Worse yet, the list of “vestigial” structures is shrinking with boring regularity.
I’ve read that a list of 150 (or 180) vestigial structures were presented as evidence at the Scopes trial. My argument is that brushing off structures as vestigial impedes scientific progress, whereas with an ID paradigm, these same structures would be investigated under the assumption that they do have some, as of yet unknown, function.
The Darwinists here typically have emitted clouds of ink (pun intended) at my argument, and after I arm wrestle them down, they walk away announcing that they’ve “won” the argument.
It is the ‘unscientific’ for man to think that if he does not know the function of something then it must not have a function.
Leave it to Darwinists to seize upon such ignorance of function as proof for their theory. Moreover please note how plastic the word ‘vestigial’ becomes in the hands of a Darwinist:
Throw on top of that the fairly recent debacle of Junk DNA, which many Darwinists still argue passionately for in spite of ENCODE’s findings, and the harmful effect of Darwinism on science starts to become more readily apparent:
Comment and Music:
OT: CPAC 2014 – Eric Metaxas, Author – video
Is it true that babies do not contain free will and so would this be considered vestigial because how do babies make decisions? BTW does free will not exist because we sometimes make unconscious decisions. Also is it true that we are not conscious of our memories and taht their stored in the brain because we are not conscious of these memories or words all the time. Doesn’t this show we have no free will because we have to access this unconscious and since were not in control of this this shows no free will?
Well Jaceli123 if you have no free will, then what use is it to argue one way or the other? You have no choice to believe whether you have free will of not if materialistic determinism is true since you must believe whatever your molecules in your brain ‘randomly’ dictate to you to believe! 🙂
Dog, tail, and round and round we go!
Jaceli123, a bit of advice? Perhaps you should actually try to google some answers to these rather silly videos you fall prey to?
Let me google that for you
BTW when I mean unconscious act I mean scratching your head without being aware of it. BTW I did search up if babies have free will and I didn’t find anything. How do you have choice when you unconsciously do something. I also cant find anything on how were not conscious of all are thoughts and memories. If the mind is not the brain were are all these thoughts stored and since we cant control this unconscious area of the brain we have no free will? That’s what I also cant find. I think free will needs to be discussed at a real deep level of philosophical discussion. Not about stupid libet experiments but about everyday activities and actions.
No, I don’t think such a discussion is significant. As ba77 says, if you have no free will, then any such discussion is pointless. If you want to go that route, read B.F. Skinner on Behaviorism.
Back on track, the topic being considered is labeling any structure as “vestigial” before it has been demonstrated that it definitely has no function or benefit, including repressed genes.
I agree that this Darwinist label should be retired because it consistently has impeded scientific progress.
sorry about that I would love to discuss vestigial organs with you guys. I see that universal common descent has very good evidence from this as I see it. As well as Atavisms!
I do agree that natural selection cannot account for complex life but that complex algorithms and outside space time conscious minds can bring in new information into the quantum and molecular world. But We could debate vestigial organs.
BA77 I see that you disagree with a common ancestor but I don’t, as I see a lots of evidence for it. Querius now im not sure about your thoughts on this subject of vestigial organs and common ancestry.
The lack of vestigial bits is a great point for creationism.
Evolutionists use the few as a sample to prove evolution.
Yet in reality there are so few in living/fossil creatures with vestigial bits that it suggests they never evolved.
if they evolved creatures should be crawling with bits and pieces of vestigials on the way out.
The very few show a truth.
marine mammals were land creatures.
Snakes had legs and island birds flew to the isles and then lhad wing atrophy.
The fossil record should be full and fuller of vestigial bits.
In fact its empty relative to numbers.
Yes Trex once walked on all fours but that a special case. Same as the kangaroo.
I have to disagree with the lack of vestigial parts.
There’s a good amount of them in nature around us today such as.
-Nails in manatees.
-Hind legs with feet found in whales.
-Hind legs and pelvis bones in snakes.
-Egg cracking teeth found in baby marsupials.
-Whip tail lizards having fake sex even though they lay eggs asexually.
-Dandelions vestigial reproductive parts.
-Amphibuas vestigial legs.
I mean the list goes on!
You don’t get it. My point is how can you scientifically prove that, for example, human nails have no useful function?
I think mine do.
Beside feeling oh-so-good when I can scratch, maybe there’s a function that you don’t know about. For example
– Has anyone demonstrated that human nails have no function in human sexual response?
– Has anyone demonstrated that human nails do not have a function in opening nuts and fruit?
– Has anyone demonstrated that human nails are never an effective defense weapon?
– Has anyone demonstrated that human nails provide additional dexterity and a tool for extracting potentially dangerous splinters?
I think they do, and thus they are not “vestigial.”
Waiting for your answer . . .
Let me ask a question. My understanding of the 98% similarity claim for the human/chimp genome is that this is based on comparing the most similar and easily aligned portion of the genomes. But as humans and chimps use many of the same proteins wouldn’t this be expected? Aren’t the most significant differences to be found in the regulatory genes and genes for which we have not understood function?
Jaceli, just because something looks like it has no function does not mean it has none. There is no way to prove that that evolutionary belief has any merit. In fact, it is an anti-scientific belief that has done harm to many people!
How many people believed that foolish “scientific” claim and had their tonsils taken out before their function was understood?
The vestigial organ doctrine hinders research just like the now discredited evolutionary belief in junk DNA did! Usually when a theory’s predictions are falsified, the theory is discarded, but evolution just flexes and adjusts so it can assimilate any contrary evidence. Convergent evolution is another example of this.
Besides, so what if an organ does not have a function? I see that more as evidence against evolution than for it. How do know if the organ didn’t simply lose its function due to a mutation? How is breaking a good organ evidence for evolution?
Flightless beetles and blind cave fish are good illustrations of this. What this shows is that evolution is good at breaking things which the ID and creationist side have been saying all along. That agrees with our prediction!
As an evolutionist, you have the difficult job of showing that the organ is both functionless AND that it actually is an evolutionary leftover as opposed to simply being an original organ that broke down.
Please show us the evidence for your faith!
There is no one knowledgeable that I know of who claims that vestigial = no present function.
James Stanhope please note how plastic the word ‘vestigial’ becomes in the hands of a Darwinist:
From Jerry Coyne, “Evolution-of-the-Gaps” and Other Fallacies – Jonathan M. – December 5, 2012
Excerpt: Coyne anticipates the typical response to the argument from vestigiality:
“Opponents of evolution always raise the same argument when vestigial traits are cited as evidence for evolution. “The features are not useless,” they say. “They are either useful for something, or we haven’t yet discovered what they’re for.” They claim, in other words, that a trait can’t be vestigial if it still has a function, or a function yet to be found.
But this rejoinder misses the point. Evolutionary theory doesn’t say that vestigial characters have no function. A trait can be vestigial and functional at the same time. It is vestigial not because it’s functionless, but because it no longer performs the function for which it evolved. (p. 58)”
But surely, by Coyne’s reckoning, this loose definition of “vestigiality” would entail that every organ and structure is vestigial, since, in Coyne’s view, all traits have evolved from something else. As Jonathan Wells explains in his own review of the book,
“If the human arm evolved from the leg of a four-footed mammal (as Darwinists claim), then the human arm is vestigial. And if (as Coyne argues) the wings of flying birds evolved from feathered forelimbs of dinosaurs that used them for other purposes, then the wings of flying birds are vestigial. This is the opposite of what most people mean by “vestigial.”
The main issue with vestigial organs/ parts is one has to know what the original function was. And no one knows that.
The question is not about everything having evolved from something else; it’s about the fact that characteristics identified as vestigial can be specifically tied to an ancestral characteristic. Function past or present might not be specificlly known, but before a characteristic is identified as vestigial, there is a pretty clear path.
A few comments about vestigial organs. It may very well be that there are to be found vestigial organs in certain families and species. Without investigation, how would you know. The darwinian paradigm just went off half-cocked and declared there are many without any evidence.
As an example, the remains of the eyes of blind cave fish is often considered a vestigial organ. That is, what remains is of no use. But how do we know it has no use without investigation. It may very well be that, given the interconnection of pathways in the fish’s development, that, if every trace of the eye’s components were removed from the fish’s genome, the fish would not properly develop. If that were to be the case, could the eye, even in the state of non-functionality as an eye, still be considered vestigial.
Even if all the components of the eyes of blind cave fish were found to be entirely superfluous to the cave fish’s existence, that would be of no support to the case for darwinian evolution vs intelligent design. You see, dysfunction of previously functional features in various life forms is compatible with both unguided darwinian evolution and its opposite- intelligent design. (Intelligent design does not preclude broken parts.) What Darwin attempted to explain with his theory was the existence of a functional eye. (That is what intelligent design attempts to explain, as well.) Not its degradation into a dysfunctional vestige.
For someone to put forward vestigial organs in defense of the theory of evolution is a distraction. Pure and simple. It has been pernicious in that it has delayed the research that would have otherwise been long since done.
Atavism is a similar distraction. There is no reason that intelligent design prevents the “reappearance” of a characteristic. What needs to be explained is a characteristic’s appearance in the first place. Whales, for instance, may simply be designed from a common template, mammalian, with certain components “re-purposed.” Legs, for example. (BTW The “remnants” of the legs in whales does serve some purpose.) The issue here is still “How did the components of the process of making legs first arise?” Was it unguided natural process- culled genetic accidents? Or, rather, was some intelligence component required to make them appear.
The principal objective of Darwin was to explain the appearance of biological features of the organisms in the world around us with natural laws and “chance” events, only. It is the burden of the darwinian evolution proponents to demonstrate that natural law and chance event are up to the task. Irrelevant pointing to dubious vestigial organs and atavisms doesn’t cut it.
Jaceli123, The only people who think whales have leg bones are ignorant evolutionists. Why can’t those bones be remnants of flippers? “Oh noes Joes, they are legs because we evolutionists knows legs bones.”
I’m a little surprised at Intelligent Design advocates having a problem with vestigial structures. You can argue that they are a result of design recycling or some such thing, but to deny them altogether seems to be a little bit inconsistent.
James Stanhope, perhaps as a Darwinist, you would care to actually try to understand the design argument before you proceed to try to tell us how we should prosecute it?
“There is no one knowledgeable that I know of who claims that vestigial = no present function.”
Seems to me the goal posts have been moved from where they were in Darwin’s day.
Mr.77, Why would you assume that I’m a “Darwinist”? Is it possible to be at least sympathetic to the ideas behind ID but not prepared to accept YEC arguments?
SteRusJon, there are a great many ideas in science that have changed since Darwin’s day.
“Why would you assume that I’m a “Darwinist”?”
Duck test, i.e. looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. Probably is a duck! 🙂 Please feel free to state your exact position so as to differentiate yourself from a neo-Darwinist and avoid any confusion. Moreover, the vestigial organ argument is not a YEC argument but was born purely out of Darwinian thought. In so far as it touches on functionality it impinges on ID proper!
Mr. 77, If you’re suggesting that some form of loyalty oath is expected, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. I’m not sure I have an “exact position” on anything that confines me to agreement with any give type of groupthink.
As far as ID is concerned, I believe that the general idea of what seems to be focused complexity requiring design has merit and is worth investigation. With all due respect, I’m not quite ready to accept you as an authority on what constitutes “ID proper.” I do know however that the rejection of vestigial structures as being vestigial seems to be a common them amongst YEC commentators. I don’t know why a structure can’t be both vestigial (in the evolution sense) and designed.
“I’m not sure I have an “exact position” on anything that confines me to agreement with any give type of groupthink.”
whenever you decide to form a rigid argument one way or the other, for or against anything, let me know. In your undefined state, it is hard to know what you complaint is exactly. You lean towards Darwinism in order to make your argument and then when it suits your purposes you back off from being committed to it so as to try to drive a wedge between the vestigial argument of Darwinist and ID proper. Your form of argument is disingenuous to put it mildly. You are trying to have your cake and eat it to. ,,, I’m done playing your stupid game!
The reason evolutionists call them ‘vestigial’ is that they cannot come up with a mechanism that would have evolved them. Indeed, why would nature evolve something that does not convey a clear survival advantage and do it multiple times to boot?
Darwinists are the true anti-science religionists.
SteRusJon I do not disagree with you at all about how these specified complex systems arose in one of my comments I state this and I agree that vestigial and Atavistic legs are the result of loss traits. What I am debating is that some people disagree that theses are even legs found in whales even though they contain leg and feet bones. Tjguy I understand that we can not prove these functions to be completely useless but can draw scientific conclusions from common ancestry it simple shows previous parts from a ancestor. I do agree that this is not the result of natural selection acting on random mutations. As James Shapiro put that natural selection is only a purifier and a mechanism for variation.
And what about my refutation in #14 regarding your claim that human nails are “vestigial.” After demonstrating that they might indeed have a useful function, do you agree that it is not correct calling them vestigial?
My point, as is most everyone else’s here, is that simply not knowing the function for a structure is not a valid scientific justification for labeling them vestigial—an artifact of Darwinian evolution.
Querius, The fact that a structure has a useful function is not evidence against its being vestigial. The human coccyx is a good example.
So, why in the Scopes trial were 180 structures identified as vestigial and evidence for evolution? Or to put it another way, since the ancestors of humans and apes have femurs, therefore by your definition femurs must be vestigial. Right?
Querius, The Scopes trial was 90 (or so) years ago. Believe it or not, science has advanced in the last 90 years.
The coccyx is a vestigial tail bone. It serves a present purpose of anchoring muscles, a purpose it may have served all along. You seem to think that all biological structures are allowed only a single function. Femurs are irrelevant.
James Stanhope, so you really think that you came from an ape? Where is your evidence save for in your imagination? You do know that the tail bone was nothing but a tail bone all along and any claim that it is a leftover monkey tail is purely an old wives tale built on imaginary evidence?
In fact, contrary to another old wives tale built upon imaginary evidence, embryological development for each species, including chimps and humans, is unique:
Hey guys sorry I couldn’t respond sooner Im busy today packing for a ski trip. Anyway Queries I think vestigial forms are something that have been reduced in functionality. Like whip tail lizards exhibiting sexual behavior even though they reproduce asexually. This shows a behavior reduced to little to no function. Also I did find something interesting a long time ago that blue footed boobies contain a nasal cavity and a sinus cavity even though the top of their beak is covered up and sealed, showing a previous ancestor had a open nasal cavity.
Exactly. And what was considered “vestigial” then is not considered “vestigial” now. But “vestigial was and is (by your own posts) falsely deemed evidence for Darwinism, by argument out of ignorance—we don’t know its function, so it must not have one.
How can you *know* that any biological structure absolutely does not have any function (remembering repressed genes)?
No, my point is that biological structures that have a purpose (or more than one) are not “vestigial” simply because some presumed ancestor has a homologous structure perhaps used for a different purpose.
Not at all! Femurs are part of a locomotion and manipulation structure in apes, a reproduction structure in whales, and a locomotion structure in humans. Are femurs vestigial in humans because they no longer support manipulation, or reproduction? What exactly was the original use of the femur—it was a fin for swimming, right? Thus, femurs are “vestigial” in land animals by one common definition.
I still haven’t received a response from you regarding whether human nails are vestigial! Instead, I get one on boobies, and if I answer boobies, I’ll get one on fruit bats, followed by kangaroos, amoebas, and then slime molds.
So, one more time. Are human nails vestigial?
That is your opinion. And it is only an opinion.
Queries, human nails are not vestigial in a sense because we could live with out them quit frankly. I understand nails have some kind of function but thats not what vestigial means.
a bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed in comparison to one more fully developed in an earlier stage of the individual, in a past generation, or in closely related forms.
See I meant that nails show less use because of our reptilian ancestors who used nails to reach onto surfaces. So yes I know it has some function but it has been reduced in a function because of past evolutionary generations.
Querius, the 180 structures cited in the Scopes trial were not individually identified. There was just a statement made to that effect, so it’s not possible to evaluate the claim. The German anatomist Robert Wiedersheim published a book in the 1890s in which he specifically identified 86 human vestigial structures. It was apparently this list that was later expanded to 180, but by whom and to what end isn’t clear.
Wiedersheim, by the way, defined vestigial structures as “wholly or in part functionless” and that they have “lost their original physiological significance.” I think those ideas are considered accurate today, so you can see why I said that your reference to the femur is irrelevant.
Mr. 77, I do not think that I came from an ape. I have documentary evidence that my mother, a member of the species Homo sapiens, gave birth to me. :>)
Then why are you defending the absurd Darwinian proposition that the tailbone is vestigial? Much like the word vestigial itself, it seems your position is extremely plastic when it suits your purposes. ,, Just sayin,,,
To call something vestigial just begs the question.
Just because evolutionists can behave like apes and reptiles doesn’t mean humans, apes and reptiles share a common ancestor. 😛
James and Jaceli123,
Notice from each other’s posts that there are two distinct Darwinist (or neo-Darwinist) definitions for vestigial:
A. Having no function, a vestige of the evolutionary process.
B. Having a different biological function by process of evolutionary adaptation.
The change from definition A to definition B is the result of numerous embarrassments and falsifications including mislabeling organs such as ductless glands, etc. as “vestigial.”
However, the “new” definition of vestigial is tautological since Darwinism asserts that all structures have had some previous, not necessarily identical function. This provides Darwinism with additional “flexibility” to create support for any evolutionary pathway. Very handy, though scientifically useless.
Yes, the human femur by definition B has indeed lost some functionality present in ancestral organisms and is thus, strictly speaking, vestigial.
Jaceli123—I noticed that you still haven’t answered my question of whether you still think human nails are “vestigial” in light of my argument to the contrary.
From a Darwinist perspective, would I be more likely to survive if my nails were reptilian? <—warning: trick question. 😉
Mr. 77: If you can explain why you think that the idea of vestigial structures is “absurd” in your own words, I might be able to answer you.
Joe: I’ve seen where you have, several times, insisted that ID has no problem with evolution, so who are you referring to as “evolutionists”?
Querius: The information from Wiedersheim in #41 above is still valid wrt the definition “vestigial” in biology. The fact that some might be confused isn’t surprising, as it’s not an entirely simple concept, and there might grey areas.
James Stanhope, I have a very specific question I want answered scientifically. I want to know if it is possible to produce humans by purely material, i.e. Darwinian, processes. Making up a ‘just so story’ about how you think ‘man lost his tail’ is about as unscientific as can be. I could care less what your imagination and subjective opinion can tell you what could have happened. Yet such absurd story telling is all we ever hear from Darwinists. We are never EVER presented with any actual empirical evidence that would indicate that Darwinism is even remotely feasible. Perhaps you feel that making a story up as to how man lost his tail is scientific, but I find your gullibility to believe in such tripe absurd.
Mr. 77, I’m not going to have a conversation with a wall of cut-and-paste. Again, if you can explain in your own words why you feel the idea of vestigial structures is absurd, I can try to answer. Otherwise there’s no point.
James Stanhope, I have explained why your position is absurd in my own words. Because you don’t like the fact that I carefully referenced the fact that Darwinists have no empirical evidence after I stated my case to you is of no importance to me. I don’t write to please your personal tastes! The fact that I made clear to you, for all to see, and will gladly repeat for any onlookers (if there be any), is that the ‘vestigial structure argument’ you are using, such as ‘how man lost his tail’, is not science but is merely a imaginative ‘just so story’. In fact empirical science, when properly utilized, is the ‘bottom line’ that is SUPPOSE to put an end to such imaginative speculations. That you would defend such imaginative ‘story telling’ as to telling you anything useful scientifically is what is absurd. As far as empirical science is SUPPOSE to be practiced, I could care less what you imagine could or could not have happened, and only care what you can demonstrate to be true. Darwinian evolution is far from such an empirical demonstration:
I can’t speak for YEC commentators, but you are quite right that ID does not have any problem with vestigial structures. Designed things break down all the time and there are some decent examples of things that are likely structures that have fallen out of use over time. Not a problem from an ID perspective.
The general issue with the claim of vestigial structure, however, arises from the following confluence: (i) vestigial structures are regularly trumpeted loudly and broadly as some kind of definitive proof against design, which is nonsense, (ii) the history of arguing for purposeless evolution (and against design) by pointing to vestigial structures has an extremely poor track record — one by one over the decades most things have fallen off the list and many things that were previously thought to be vestigial are now known to have function; as a result, at some level the claim of vestigial structures often functions as a claim from ignorance;* (iii) even if something appears not to have current function, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some other purpose (e.g., things that are needed early on in the organism’s development, scaffolding leftovers from construction, etc.).
So, no, ID doesn’t have any problem with vestigial structures. But the real bona fide vestigial structures are far fewer, far less clear, and far less compelling than most proponents of purposeless evolution would have us believe.
* Incidentally, the claim of pervasive amounts of junk DNA falls in this category. It is essentially a claim of vestigial structure, founded upon, in some cases, a lack of understanding and in other cases, on a philosophical assertion that we should “expect” a lot of junk.
I’m really trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.
– Your simply saying that Wiedersheim’s claims are still valid doesn’t make them so.
– All the subsequent discoveries about organs that were formerly labeled vestigial at the time have been demonstrated to be functional, thus falsifying his claims based on the classic definition of vestigial (having no function, a vestige of the evolutionary process).
– Asserting that the label “vestigial” is a complex concept and that there are gray areas doesn’t elicit any confidence in its scientific utility. It’s simply a vestige of the rotting planking of the drifting 19th century ship, Darwinism.
As in Monty Python’s dead parrot skit, the parrot is not resting, pining, or stunned. It’s dead, and science should move on ahead.
One commenter offers this definition of vestigial:
That is perilously close to being circular.
In many cases of alleged vestigial structures, the proponent of purposeless evolution is using them to claim evidence for the truth of unguided, purposeless evolution (indeed, let’s just acknowledge it, this is the primary interest in vestigial structures at all).
Yet, the very definition of vestigial assumes that the vestigial structure came from some “earlier stage” or from some “closely related form.” In that sense, one cannot logically claim that something is vestigial because it is related to some other form or some earlier stage and then say that the existence of the vestigial structure demonstrates evolution (i.e., demonstrates that there was some earlier stage or some earlier form).*
The idea of human finger nails being a left over from reptilian ancestors, for example, being nothing more than unmitigated, unsubstantiated, pure storytelling.
* This is a good parallel case to the concept of “homology”, which so often functions as nothing more than a circular restatement of the original claim, assuming as the precedent the very conclusion that needs to be reached.
Eric noted that
Dr. Ohno in his paper on “junk” DNA, speculated that this DNA was the remnants of “fossil” genes. That this is being falsified by modern science seems to evoke no concern to the Darwinist true believers who spring to Dr. Ohno’s defense.
The people who think that alleged vestigial parts is evidence for common ancestry. 😉
Evolutionists are people who accept blind watchmaker evolution, ie that blind and mindless processes such as natural selection (which includes random/ happenstance mutations) and drift can account for the diversity of life starting from some simple replicators. And that our existence is just because of many improbable coincidences.
IOW evolutionists are people heavily vested is Special High Intensity Training. You have to be to pawn that nonsense off as science and get away with it for years.
The question, “are any organs really vestigial?” could be asked. For many years various organs of the human body were called “vestigial” by evolutionists, that is, the last vestiges of organs that supposedly once had a use, but were no longer needed because of the claimed advance up the evolutionary ladder.
Of interest in this regard is the small gland that is shaped like a pinecone and hence called the “pineal” gland. Though it is located near the center of the brain, it is not part of the brain. “Until very recently” it was thought that “the pineal in man served no biologic purpose and was merely a vestige,” reported the journal Hospital Practice. Now the pineal has been shown “to possess a unique ability to produce melatonin.” This is a substance that affects the brain, the reproductive system, as well as the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands.
Scientists believe that in man the pineal gland “exerts a control over the body, specifically by regulating the body clock.” (Science Digest, September 1972) The pineal does this evidently by secreting various chemicals. Thus it is believed that the pineal gland may chemically supervise many of the involuntary activities of the human body, such as helping to make body temperatures increase during the daytime and decrease at night.
Another gland long thought to be useless is the thymus. In an article entitled “The ‘Useless’ Gland That Guards Our Health,” Reader’s Digest stated: “For at least 2000 years, doctors have puzzled over the function of a pinkish-grey bit of tissue lying just below the neck and behind the breastbone—the thymus gland. . . . Modern physicians came to regard it, like the appendix, as a useless, vestigial organ which had lost its original purpose, if indeed it ever had one.
“In the last few years, however, the dogged detective work of a small band of Americans, Britons, Australians and Swedes have cracked the thymus enigma. These men have proved that, far from being useless, the thymus is really the master gland that regulates the intricate immunity system which protects us against infectious diseases. . . .“But is the thymus the only organ regulating our immunity system? Recent experiments have led researchers to believe that the appendix, tonsils and adenoids [once these too were tagged as vestigial] may also figure in the antibody responses.”
Querius, as long as you keep insisting on a “classic” definition of vestigial that’s inaccurate, your arguments will always be correct.
Joe, Why is the idea of vestigial structures in compatible with your version of evolution? If evolution is a result or consequence of design (and I won’t argue that point) why should there not be vestigial structures?
Queries I agree with Eric. No nails are not useless but have been reduced in function overtime. Thats my responded. Now let’s discuss something other than nails. As I listed in one of my first comments or post 13. I listed that Amphibuas legs can come into the category of a vestigial body part. Heres a picture of these legs and from observation you should determine that theses legs are reduced to little to no function!
It isn’t. As I said I am all for vestigial rear flippers in cetaceans. Finger nails on humans? No.
So it all depends on the structure and the context. As I calling something vestigial just begs the question.
From a design PoV something modified and used for some other function wouldn’t be vestigial.
ID and others AMEN to vestigial bits. This yEC loves them. they tell a truth about biological change. its reasonable and true evidence for change.
yet not evidence for evolution.
in fact if evolution was true THEN biology should be crawling with vestigial bits upon vestigial bits! Instead they are few and far between to such a poverty as to demand a conclusion evolutionary change has never happened.
marine mammals did cHANGE from landlovers and marsupial fetus teeth show indeed they were first placentals. thats why they look identical to placental types.
yes cave fish came from non cave fish. Etc
The equation is being missed by you guys.
The few are a sample for the poverty of evolution evidence by vestigial bits.
The sample for evolution , if true, should be vestigial bits in everyone and a great deal.
nary a rib but a unexplained bump should be the tale.
In #45, I pointed out that there are two definitions of “vestigial.” The classic definition fits the word “vestige.” The more modern definition fits all biologic structures that are believed to have developed from another structure.
For example, it’s now generally believed by Darwinists that the flagellar rotor from Yersinia pestis evolved into a Type III secretion system in some bacteria. The motility of the bacteria with this novelty was compromised in favor of acquiring a structure for injecting toxins into eukaryotic cells.
Thus by the second definition, Type III secretion systems are vestigial, due to the loss of the original function, motility.
One can argue that vestigiality only applies to an overall loss of function, which would be hard to assess, since for some organisms motility confers greater viability than toxicity, but for others the reverse is true.
My point is that the term, vestigial, has lost it’s utility in the modern Darwinist pantheon outside of a sentimental attachment. Maybe you can find a new definition to keep the discredited term on life support. 😉
Jaceli123 @58 continued . . .
Do you think you would rather have reptilian nails—would they provide more functionality for you?
How would I know from visual inspection that the appendages on Scelotes bidigittatus aren’t actually Highly Functional sense organs, able to detect minute chemicals from decaying organisms that it can more easily locate for scavenging?
If I assumed that these structures are vestigial, I’d be less likely to investigate them to find out what advantage that they convey!
And that’s why the ID paradigm promotes scientific progress while Darwinism inhibits scientific progress.
Did you want to bring up fruit bats or kangaroos next? 😉
Why would we think that? Has anyone ever found empirical evidence that humans once had more reptilian nails or more functional nails? Do we have any idea what kinds of changes would be required in the organism to change the one into the other?
Ironically, I had never really thought about nails and whether they might have function, but since reading this exchange earlier today I have been noticing how often I use my nails for something functional, and it is quite often — certainly with my hands.
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that nails constitute a “reduced function” vestige of some progenitor species. It is of course possible — in a purely hypothetical sort of way — that human nails devolved from some reptilian counterpart.
But, until then, it is just a story. Pure, unadulterated, unsubstantiated, just-so story.
Alright look let me repeat myself. IM NOT A DARWINIST. ID is compatible with universal common descent. So this means that if there is vestigial organs it shows how natural selection is a terrible mechanism like James Shapiro said. Lets make that clear I don’t think natural processes can produce new function just variate. Ok so yes I know you use nails so do I but i’m saying that vestigial organs show a degrading system from common descent until a conscious mind inserts information into the system. So human nails are useful but show less use because of common descent and natural selection. I hope I made myself clear. BTW sorry for the long responses, driving stoping and unpacking is a hassle so Im kind of busy but am driving all day so ill be free for a discussion.
Jaceli123, There seems to be some here who think that anyone who disagrees with them must be a Darwinist.
Question begging 101.
And it is true that ID does not argue against universal common descent. But that concept (UCD) still needs a way to be tested.
Thanks for the clarification. I fully agree that ID is compatible with vestigial organs, as I mentioned to James @50. I also agree with you that there is precious little evidence that natural processes can produce new function.
My point was more limited. Namely, that while there are a small number of true vestigial structures, (i) the idea of pervasive vestigial structures is largely based on made up stories coupled with a lack of understanding of the engineering principles involved, (ii) most structures that, over the years, have been claimed as vestigial have, with more knowledge, turned out not to be in any meaningful sense, and (iii) even the existence of true vestigial structures is not evidence for a broader evolutionary storyline — particularly when the definition of vestigial sometimes put forward is essentially circular.
Anyway, sounds like we are in agreement on most of this. I think what jumped out to some of us about the human nail example, is that it falls in the category of a made up story. There are probably some better examples, like the blind cave fish or something, that are closer to a true vestigial structure.
But I agree with your broader point that common descent and natural selection could result in a loss or diminishment of function over time.