Question Sheet: What the appendix is good for


Before reading:

  1. What is the appendix?
  2. Why do people sometimes have to have their appendix removed?

During reading:

  1. What does Heather Smith do now?
  2. What is a vestigial structure?
  3. Why does the appendix at first appear pointless?
  4. What link did Parker and his colleagues find between the immune system and

    the appendix?

  5. What does other vestigial structures does this article discuss?
  6. What can studying these organs tells us about human evolution?

After Reading

  1. What is evolution and how could evolution affect vestigial structures?
  2. Why would our ancestors possibly have had more use for wisdom teeth than we


  3. Why might someone living in a developed country not need an appendix?


  1. Find other examples of vestigial structures. Is anyone studying whether or

    not these structures might be useful?

  2. Find out the rate of appendectomies in an undeveloped country and compare that rate to that of a developed country.