Maybe you aren’t that familiar with the fact that the human body is full of evolutionary leftovers that no longer serve a purpose to the overall functioning of our organism. These are called vestigial structures and many people have become fascinated with studying their origin and with seeing just how many modern people still inherit them nowadays. Prepare to be awed by our selection with eight of the most unexpected evolutionary leftovers that we are still proudly carrying with us nowadays.
Palmaris Longus: this pretentious Latin name doesn’t refer to a fancy or complicated organ inside your body, it actually has to do with a raised band that appears on your wrist when you touch your pinky with your thumb. This muscle was very useful back in the day when we were using it to swing from tree to tree. This was millions of years ago; nowadays it doesn’t serve any major purpose anymore. In fact, the Palmaris Longus is so outdated that 14% of us don’t even have it anymore.
If you touch your ear right now, you might discover that there is a small bump on the upper part of the pavilion and even though you probably didn’t think much about this insignificant part of your body until now, it is actually called Darwin’s Tubercle and it is also considered a vestigial structure. It is a reminiscence of the fact that, in the past, people used to have pointy ears, or so Mr. Darwin devised while studying this particular feature than not many people still have in the present day.
This is perhaps the most mystical evolutionary leftover that the human body has to offer, this ghostly reminder of our lost tails being known as the coccyx or more popular as “the tailbone”. Used for balance and movement while climbing cliffs and trees, this cute tail still exists in our embryo state but later on we attack and destroy it while still in the womb, in what can be characterized as the most inefficient evolutionary mechanism, ever.
The pink membrane that can be observed inside the corner of your eye while looking in the mirror is beautifully named the Plica Semilunaris and it used to be a third eyelid that would help us blink horizontally. While human beings don’t have a use for this vestigial structure anymore, it can still be seen in action in the eyes of many other animals, such as crocodiles or birds of prey. Plica Semilunaris is definitely one of the most fascinating evolutionary leftovers that humans have.
Goosebumps are a natural reaction to extremely cold or scary situations, and while we don’t spend our days thinking about this bodily function that we as humans have, the truth is that this vestigial structure used to raise the body hair in order to make us appear bigger or trap an extra layer of heat for warmth during the winter. But because today we don’t have the same hairy bodies this function seems to have become truly obsolete.
Palmar Grasp Reflex
Yet another super cool reflex is the “palmar grasp reflex” and it can be observed if you place your finger on a baby’s palm or foot sole, the primary instinct of the infant being to grab your thumb and hold on to it with quite some strength. Ancestral primate babies had this reflex to grasp to their parents for transport and, as we now have evolved into modern monkeys, we inherited and preserved the Palmar Grasp Reflex as a main function of our bodies.
Our ancestors had much wider jaws because they had to devour raw meat and fibrous roots so the wisdom teeth were of real help to them, but with the discovery of fire our diets changed and so did our dentition, in conclusion the wisdom teeth became redundant over time. These evolutionary leftovers don’t appear in all individuals and those who do have them often complain about serious pain and choose to have them removed.
The Appendix is yet another vestigial structure that doesn’t serve its initial purpose, this organ being considered a reminiscent feature that is no longer of use to the human body. Because we can function properly after having it removed, the general conclusion was that this vermiform body part is an evolutionary leftover that was no longer needed to ensure the survival of the modern man. However, this idea is not unanimously accepted.