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Vestigial structures and their purposes

Dr. Kent Hovind April 18th, 2011

Q: Biology textbooks say there are vestigial structures like…(a) human tail bones, (b) whale pelvis, (c) snake hind legs, (d) the appendix, and (e) gill slits on embryos. Are these really evolutionary leftovers?

A: Not all textbooks cite the same vestigial structures, but let’s take a look at all of them together, and then analyze each one separately. Notice the following:

  1. All the examples given are examples of animals losing something, not gaining something. How could losing something help an organism evolve or be proof that they were evolving?
  2. All are really minor compared to what would be needed to change any kind of animal into any other kind of animal. Are these small changes good enough evidence of evolution of these animals? Is there other evidence?
  3. All the examples given are used for a function today and are not “vestigial” as the book says.

Many biologists have discarded this view…Researchers have now shown that structures which were dismissed as inconsequential have an important role to play.1

Let’s look at each one a little closer:

  1. The human tailbone is the anchor point for nine little muscles needed to support the colon, anchor the end of the spinal column, and perform several other functions.
  2. The whale does not have a pelvis. Those bones are anchor points for special muscles used during reproduction. The bones of the male whales differ from those of the female. Furthermore, there is no fossil evidence for loss of legs in whales.
  3. The spurs on the abdomen of some snakes are also used in mating. We had a fifteen-and-a-half-foot python snake skin at the ministry. You could see the two little half-inch claws; each is attached to a tine bone about two inches long. They are not remnants of legs.
  4. The human appendix serves as a part of the immune system today. It’s true that you can live without it. So what? You can live without both of your legs, arms, ears, and eyes as well. That doesn’t prove you don’t need them! Removal of the appendix causes the rest of the immune system to work harder, that’s all. People without their appendix are more likely to live shorter lives and catch more diseases.

Futher Study

  1. V. Wright, M.D., F.R.C.P., professor of rheumatology at University of Leeds, U.K., Preface to Vestigial Organs are Fully Functional, by Jerry Bergman and George Howe (St. Joseph, MO: Creation Research Society, 1990).