Vestigial organs as proof of evolution

| 32 Comments

Interesting video, Proof of evolution that you can find on your own body, deals with several vestigial organs in the human body. It is certainly hard to see why a god might have included such organs if she had created humans by any method other than evolution. The video is only 4 min long; watch it!

32 Comments

I keep my vestigial organs around as a fond reminder of my ancestors’ swinging their tails and responding pertly to sounds by shifting their ears toward sounds.

Don’t forget your roots.

Glen Davidson

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

I keep my vestigial organs around as a fond reminder of my ancestors…

I was going to auction mine on eBay, but now you made me feel guilty!

Just Bob said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

I keep my vestigial organs around as a fond reminder of my ancestors…

I was going to auction mine on eBay, but now you made me feel guilty!

Well, to be honest, they don’t command high prices, either, being low in function and all of that.

So I’ll admit that the costs of extraction and lack of high market value might have played a role in my retention of such curiosities.

Glen Davidson

Actually, I wish I could get rid of my coccyx. I broke the sucker once, way back in junior high. Sitting was absolute agony for a couple of months.

Old material and not well done. Lets think about this. The babys do not have tails. The extensions are not remnant tails but only remnants of the extension they have in fetus form while in the womb. Its just a probability factor that for some this does not disappear. lets its not MORE evidence of a tail but only of what is seen in the fetus at early period. Creationists would predict this also after knowing there is the “extension” of the spine while a fetus. It could only be that some would not have it vanish. If one rejects the fetus has a tail because of being once a tailed creature then its not more evidence against that conclusion having some babes with tails.

All the muscle stuff is only a reflection we do have a ape body. Yet not we had a active animal body once or that we had previous evolved states. All our body already looks like a animal/ape. Why not ear muscles! Why should God not give us that if he gave us a ape body. The clenching hands/feet is not evidence of the monkey within. its just a natural ability of humans with a ape type of body. How else would it be if God created us?

The great point of vestigial leftovers is how much is not leftover if evolution had been working on biology forms. All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . They are not.! If evolution was clearing house on everything then why not EVERYTHING. If they did find vestigial bits aplenty on creatures aplenty then there would be more videos and plenty of them. There ain’t and thats a great creationist point for thinking mankind with God’S image within us.

Further comments from Mr. Byers will be sent to the BW, as is customary.

Robert Byers said:

Lets think about this. The babys do not have tails. The extensions are not remnant tails but only remnants of the extension they have in fetus form while in the womb.

Right. not tails.

Just a string of unattached vertebra-style bones wrapped in a little skin that sticks out of the body at the base of the spine. Nosireee. not a tail at all. Nothing to see here, move along.

Ever notice how creationists behave like they have vestigial brains?

I’m not sure that we can truly regard the coccyx as ‘vestigial’, which is a term that means ‘left over’ and has the subtext ‘useless’. The coccyx “… is an important attachment for various muscles, tendons and ligaments” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccyx). We can regard it as having been ‘repurposed’ (which is also evidence for evolution), but it is no more ‘vestigial’ than our middle ear bones are ‘vestigial’ because they no longer function as jawbones.

Matt Young said:

Further comments from Mr. Byers will be sent to the BW, as is customary.

Byers does make an omphalos type argument more overtly than most ID/creationists here, though. Correct for grammar and spelling and his arguments are no worse (although not much better) than polished DI crap.

“We are apes with vestigial organs, as if we evolved, but it’s actually because God arbitrarily created us in a way that looks exactly like that. He literally had an infinite number of choices but chose to make us apes with vestigial organs, exactly as if we had evolved.”

That’s a completely fair paraphrase. It does raise the question, “are other apes also in the image of God?” Does God resemble a chimpanzee more than he resembles a zebra, as we do?

Omaphalos can never be “wrong”, it just doesn’t add anything and doesn’t justify ignoring the alternate, more compelling, evolutionary explanation.

Ever notice how creationists behave like they have vestigial brains?

Nope. They don’t appear to have even vestigial brains

https://me.yahoo.com/a/yCTZpzcvy5Vb[…]F26tKI#9a762 said:

I’m not sure that we can truly regard the coccyx as ‘vestigial’, which is a term that means ‘left over’ and has the subtext ‘useless’. The coccyx “… is an important attachment for various muscles, tendons and ligaments” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccyx). We can regard it as having been ‘repurposed’ (which is also evidence for evolution), but it is no more ‘vestigial’ than our middle ear bones are ‘vestigial’ because they no longer function as jawbones.

The term “exaptation” comes in handy here.

Also the terms “makeshift” and “kludge” come to mind. Or maybe even “code reuse”.

Henry J said:

Also the terms “makeshift” and “kludge” come to mind. Or maybe even “code reuse”.

Biology = cludgeology. (As far as genetics are concerned).

Interesting to note that humans are better designers than the intelligent designer of biology. I don’t think we’d find cludges like that in a manmade (Craig Venter?) biological design.

If you are to design to perfection design something that can adapt and reshape.

“All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . “

And it is. The easiest place to see this is in sequenced genomes.

Marilyn said:

If you are to design to perfection design something that can adapt and reshape.

If you are to design to perfection, design to something that doesn’t require adaptation or reshaping.

fusilier

James 2:24

Rolf said:

Henry J said:

Also the terms “makeshift” and “kludge” come to mind. Or maybe even “code reuse”.

Biology = cludgeology. (As far as genetics are concerned).

Interesting to note that humans are better designers than the intelligent designer of biology. I don’t think we’d find cludges like that in a manmade (Craig Venter?) biological design.

And yet, those who detect design in nature also tell us that what is in nature is far beyond anything like what humans are able to design. The only design that we know about is not like the simplest cell: And thus living cells must be designed. Arguing that cells are so much unlike instances of design that they must be designed.

Do they have a consistent concept of “design”? Taking into account that they can detect it from contrasting indications! And it cannot be ruled out by any observations!

fusilier said:

Marilyn said:

If you are to design to perfection design something that can adapt and reshape.

If you are to design to perfection, design to something that doesn’t require adaptation or reshaping.

fusilier

James 2:24

And if it does something must have interfered, and/or not followed the instructions.

The point is not whether something is a good design or not. Obviously, most things could be better designed from scratch without the problems imposed by historical constraint. The point is that things are modified from a preexisting structure. Therefore, they were not specially created from scratch. This is inconsistent with nay creation scenario, but completely consistent with descent with modification. That is why vestigial organs are such strong evidence, testifying to the validity of evolution. But of course, every other feature of every organism also displays this property.

Joel Eissenberg said:

“All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . “

And it is. The easiest place to see this is in sequenced genomes.

I don’t read the Byers crap anymore. So I missed this little gem. Perhaps Byers could inform us of exactly what feature he has that was Not inherited from his ancestors? Perhaps he could nome some structure that was not inherited from the common ancestor of humans and chimps? Perhaps he could name one developmental pathway that was not modified from a preexisting pathway? Perhaps he could name one gene that was not inherited from a preexisting gene or ancestral sequence? All of biology is bits from former stages. That’s the point.

Marilyn said:

If you are to design to perfection design something that can adapt and reshape.

Marilyn it sounds like you’re arguing theistic evolution; i.e. that God created the first organisms which then evolved consistent with the geological and genetic records. I don’t think that sort of claim poses a major issue for the TOE. It certainly doesn’t agree with modern science about the most likely answer to the OOL question, but at least it gets the ‘evolution’ part right.

However, both the blowback we get from creationists here on this website, and the sort of legal/educational battles being fought, is typically not that nuanced and not that accepting of the TOE. Instead we typically find ourselves opposing YECism and the claim that the genetic code cannot “adapt and reshape” as you put it. These are people who want to claim evolution cannot produce new species, and (more importantly) teach our kids this in HS biology classes, even though as far as science is concerned, its (a) not science and (b) utterly inconsistent with the observed evidence.

A Masked Panda (a762) said:

I’m not sure that we can truly regard the coccyx as ‘vestigial’, which is a term that means ‘left over’ and has the subtext ‘useless’. The coccyx “… is an important attachment for various muscles, tendons and ligaments” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccyx). We can regard it as having been ‘repurposed’ (which is also evidence for evolution), but it is no more ‘vestigial’ than our middle ear bones are ‘vestigial’ because they no longer function as jawbones.

Well stated. I think the vestigial aspect of the coccyx is not the fact that it exists, but it’s the fact that it possesses fused segmentation, IMHO. I.e. - The segmentation serves no function or is unnecessary.

JimboK said:

A Masked Panda (a762) said:

I’m not sure that we can truly regard the coccyx as ‘vestigial’, which is a term that means ‘left over’ and has the subtext ‘useless’. The coccyx “… is an important attachment for various muscles, tendons and ligaments” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccyx). We can regard it as having been ‘repurposed’ (which is also evidence for evolution), but it is no more ‘vestigial’ than our middle ear bones are ‘vestigial’ because they no longer function as jawbones.

Well stated. I think the vestigial aspect of the coccyx is not the fact that it exists, but it’s the fact that it possesses fused segmentation, IMHO. I.e. - The segmentation serves no function or is unnecessary.

Well, that, plus it really is the vestige of the tail, whatever function it may have.

The ossicles aren’t a vestige in the same way. They were jaw bones that are now ear bones. They are smaller now (relatively), just as the coccyx is smaller than the tail was, but in the case of the ossicles that’s just because they work much better that way, not because they’re “just a vestige.” Ossicles re-sized, relatively, for their present purpose, while the coccyx is what’s left of our tail, but, as muscles were always attached to the tail, it still functions as a muscle attachment site. If the ossicles of the ear ever became useless for their present function, shrunk, and only served to continue to serve to attach some things appropriately, then they would presumably be called vestigial.

In a sense, of course, vestigials are simply a kind of homology. They just go further in having lost their original functions and having picked up nothing that seems very suited to them (the coccyx is not what anyone would design for muscle attachment), but may (or may not) have a function for which they will merely do in lieu of anything better available for evolutionary adaptation. The coccyx seems to fit what most people mean by “vestigial.” But it’s not an exact category, just a rather interesting case of homology where the original function is largely or entirely gone, and at best it just has a function for which its overall structure clearly did not evolve to serve, at least not primarily. Vestigials are especially poorly explained by design, although homologies are generally poorly explained by intelligence, no matter what evolution has done with them.

Glen Davidson

Re “All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages”

Why are there hiccups?

All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . They are not.!

Of course they are, it’s just that most are not vestigial. The fact is that life is rather limited in its inheritance, hence most bits and pieces are not discarded but merely repurposed, if that should become necessary (as when transitioning to land, or gaining flight capability).

This is not for the unteachable Byers, of course, but to point out that the old parts are indeed rife throughout life, much as evolution does predict==given known limits. It’s the idea that evolution would discard much that is unsupported and frankly ridiculous.

Glen Davidson

@ John Davidson.

I think the argument is that vestigiality is relative, and I can buy that. I would just like to slam you for a common error, of the type that causes confusion (and disbelief). “Ossicles re-sized, relatively, for their present purpose,”

This statement implies that ossicles perceived a purpose and worked to fill it. I realize that you probably using the phrase as a shortcut, but in my experience, many people who reject evolution do so because they take Such teleological arguments (identified by the use of “for” or “to”) my as literal statements of the mechanism of evolution, and (rightly) reject the idea that an earbone could plan its own evolution. I’ve even see Ernst Mayr use such structures.

Let’s do it right: “The precursors of the ear ossicles were jawbones that had become superfluous as a result of selection that favored a single-jointed jaw. Due to relaxation of selection to maintain their size, or active selection to reduce them, individuals with relatively small bones were favored, so over countless generations, the mean size of the ossicles decreased. When they had declined to a certain size they could be vibrated by sound waves, and because the bones were near the inner ear, some configurations amplified sound; this gave their bearers superior hearing, and selection then favored configurations that refined this advantage. Ultimately, this process resulted in the modern malleus/incus/stapes configuration that is common to all mammals.”

I know it’s a lot wordier but precision is more important than brevity.

New paper in Nature shows independent evolution of tetrapod gait in cave fish.….

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep23711

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/s[…]mid=tw-share

A couple of points.

1. Re the coccyx. All mammals use the base of the tail to anchor the muscles of the pelvic floor. It’s not a new feature in humans. All mammals that have lost the external tail (e.g., sloths, koalas, wombats, many rodents, bears, etc.) have the equivalent of a coccyx. However, there are in us (and also in other mammals without a tail) small segemented vertebrae that append to the end of the coccyx — those are the true vestigial remnants of a former tail.

Phil Senter has recently written about vestigial structures in mammals (the PeerJ one is available online).

http://abt.ucpress.edu/content/77/2/99.abstract

The American Biology Teacher.

Vestigial Biological Structures A Classroom-Applicable Test of Creationist Hypotheses

https://peerj.com/articles/1439/

A critical survey of vestigial structures in the postcranial skeletons of extant mammals

2. Re the middle ear ossicles. The current understanding is that the malleus (= articular in the lower jaw) and incus (= the qusdrate in the upper jaw) were being used for sound transmission from early in synapsid history. The stapes (= hyomandibula) was never a jaw bone: it’s part of the second pharyngeal arch (the jaws are the first one) that was originally used for jaw suspension, and has become an ear ossicle in most tetrapods. The hyomandibula articulates against the otic capsule: thus it will conduct airborne sound to the inner ear whether you want it to or not. Thus this chain of three bones was potentially always a means of sound transmission in mammals (in other tetrapods the hyomandibula lost its original attachment to the quadrate and became enclosed in a middle ear convergently several times).

The new jaw joint of mammals could not be “selected for” de novo, as the intermediate stages (growth of the dentary [the single bone in our lower jaw] to eventually contact the skull) would not be functional in this context. Rather, the change in the anatomy of the dentary was the result of a complex set of anatomical changes that were probably led by selection of reduction in size of the quadrate and articular (forming the original jaw joint) to improve hearing. Only after the contact of the dentary with the skull could there be “selection” for this to form a jaw joint, and for a long period of mammalian history mammals had a double jaw joint (the encapsulation of the ear ossicles into an enclosed middle ear appears to have happened convergently several times, including monotremes and therian mammals (marsupials and placentals)

Robert Byers said:

Old material and not well done. Lets think about this. The babys do not have tails. The extensions are not remnant tails but only remnants of the extension they have in fetus form while in the womb. Its just a probability factor that for some this does not disappear. lets its not MORE evidence of a tail but only of what is seen in the fetus at early period. Creationists would predict this also after knowing there is the “extension” of the spine while a fetus. It could only be that some would not have it vanish. If one rejects the fetus has a tail because of being once a tailed creature then its not more evidence against that conclusion having some babes with tails.

Most o’ this is pure bullshit, as I am sure we all know. I do have a question for Mr. Byers, though. How do you explain atavisms? Such as the fact that Whales have been discovered with hind legs from time to time, suggesting that the whale still has the genes for hind legs, they’re just inactive, y’know, junk DNA? I find it funny that whale embryos have legs and hair, a full covering of fur in the womb. Whales even have a few sparse hairs on their necks.

All the muscle stuff is only a reflection we do have a ape body. Yet not we had a active animal body once or that we had previous evolved states. All our body already looks like a animal/ape. Why not ear muscles! Why should God not give us that if he gave us a ape body. The clenching hands/feet is not evidence of the monkey within. its just a natural ability of humans with a ape type of body. How else would it be if God created us?

Um… Yeah, it is. Primates are characterized by traits such as:

1: Nails instead of claws (doesn’t have to be rounded)

2: Stereoscopic vision

3: A large brain (more prominent in simians, I’ll give you that)

Humans have all of these, humans also have the genes for tails, given that our ancient primate ancestors had tails, and humans *are* primates, after all.

The great point of vestigial leftovers is how much is not leftover if evolution had been working on biology forms. All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . They are not.! If evolution was clearing house on everything then why not EVERYTHING. If they did find vestigial bits aplenty on creatures aplenty then there would be more videos and plenty of them. There ain’t and thats a great creationist point for thinking mankind with God’S image within us.

Ever hear of “wisdom teeth”?

Thank you for the comment, Palaeonictis, but I think most readers would be grateful if you did not feed Mr. Byers. He is a known troll and apparently uneducable.

Robert Byers said:

How else would it be if God created us?

Any other way you can imagine.

The great point of vestigial leftovers is how much is not leftover if evolution had been working on biology forms. All biology should be crawling with bits from former stages . They are not.!

Actually, they are. Religion should stay out of science, where it doesn’t have the answers anymore, and just stick with religion. The “gaps” are getting smaller and smaller, and biblical literalism is a dead end. All you have to say to anyone trying to use science to disprove religion is, “God works in mysterious ways” or “it’s part of God’s plan” or “only God knows the answer to that”. Snap! There’s no comeback for that. You can keep your religion, and have your science, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 20, 2016 10:58 AM.

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