Evolution’s Vestigial Argument
A website sponsored by the Discovery Channel claims “the body has something akin to its own junk drawer” and that this junk drawer “…is full of vestigial organs, or souvenirs of our evolutionary past” (https://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/vestigial-organ.htm). For many years some scientists have claimed that evolution is supported by the fact that both humans and beasts have evolved past the need for certain organs, other body parts, and instincts or behaviors. The evolutionist believes these structures are there only as useless leftovers or “vestiges” of our evolutionary ancestry, reminders of the times when our ancestors were only fish, reptiles, and apes (Parker 54). It is assumed that these organs were once operative, however over time they lost their practicality and slowly began to decline in function (Klotz 132).
What are Vestigial Organs?
Vestige from the Latin word vestigium meaning “footprint”. They are what is left behind as an organism has evolved. “Vestigial organs are said to be remnants of organs that were used by organism’s ancestors but are no longer needed, or they function in a reduced capacity in the modern organism” (Patterson 72). The Vestigial Organ Argument is one of the classics used as proof for evolution.
History of the Vestigial Organ and Behavioral Arguments
Charles Darwin is believed to be the first to use this argument in chapter thirteen of Origin of Species. In his book The Descent of Man, he claimed about a dozen of man’s anatomical features to be useless A German anatomist, Robert Wiedersheim, in 1894 suggested that he had found a total of eighty-six such vestigial organs. Some of the more common vestigial organs evolutionists claim for the human body are: the pituitary glands, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, third and even fourth molars, and valves in the veins. In the 1971 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica more than one hundred such organs are listed.
Even though many evolutionary scientist no longer use this vestigial organ argument, many classroom textbooks from elementary to college still included them as evidence for evolution. For example, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s 2003 middle-school science textbook repeatedly declares that “[t]he human appendix is a vestigial structure” (Science: Level Blue (2003), (Columbus, OH: Glencoe/McGraw Hill). However, medical science has demonstrated that this organ has a known, proven function in mammals today.
Animal Vestigial Organs
Humans are not the only examples of creatures having evolved beyond the use of certain organs or behaviors. Below are listed just a few of the more common examples among “lower life forms.”
¡ Legless Lizards and Snakes with Legs
Evolutionists point out that there are lizards without legs and snakes which have legs. According to some Bible scholars Genesis 3:14 suggests that snakes may have once had legs. These legs are not vestigial. For example, it has been observed that pythons have structures which look like hind legs. However, these are used for mating not walking.
¡ Cave Fish/Salamanders
The eyes of blind cave salamanders that live in total darkness are vestigial. Evolution says blind cave fish descended from fish with functional eyes. It has been known that mules which were used in the early coal mines would go blind, if they were not brought out into the light periodically. However, they were still mules and did not evolve into another species. The same can be said for cave salamander and cave fish. Although adaptation and natural selection can be seen in nature, it does not prove evolution. These examples in no way demonstrate the possibility of a single-celled organism evolving into a human being.
¡ Ostriches and Emus
Ostriches and Emus cannot fly, but they do have wings. Some biologists claim that they evolved from birds which had functional wings. Those who have taken the time to study these birds have found their wings to be anything but vestigial. These species of bird use their wings to maintain their balance, keep warm in the winter and cool in the hot summer, protect their ribs, scare away predators by flapping their wings, provide shelter for their young, and use them in mating rituals.
A book about whales targeting young teens states “just imagine whales walking around. ‘It’s true’” (Whales & Dolphins, Eyes on Nature 1994, p. 6). A textbook on biology reads: “The evidence that whales descended from hoofed mammals is supported by scientific research in several different fields of biology. Many modern whale species have vestigial pelvic and leg bones. They also have vestigial nerves for the sense of smell and small muscles devoted to external ears that no longer exists” (Textbook: Texas 2015 Biology Teacher’s Edition p. 308). The evidence rests upon the belief that the hind legs of whales are missing except for small bones. “Whales have a vestigial pelvis and leg bone that serve no purpose. These structures are evidence of the whale’s evolution from four legged land dwelling animals” (Glenco, Biology – Living Systems, p. 311, 1998). Other evolutionists go as far has making the bold claim that whales evolved from cows (“Bossie to Blowhole” (National Center of Science Education, Berkeley, CA).
What are these whale bones? Are they truly vestigial? It has been observed from some marine biologists that the bones which are deep within the body a baleen whales are there to assist in strengthening the reproductive organs (Sarfati 77). The muscles which are attached to the bones differ among the genders showing they are involved in making baby whales instead of allowing the ancestors of whales to walk on land.
These whale bones are not proof of evolution but evidence of the creation. “Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ …So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so….So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:20-24,31).
¡ Pig Toes
It has been observed by many who have been farmers and those who enjoy pickled pigs’ feet that swine have two toes in the back which do not touch the ground. To the evolutionist this is proof that these are the vestigial digits which once existed in pre-historic pigs. A more practical and scientific explanation would be that pigs use these back toes which do not reach the ground to assist them in walking in the mud.
– Daniel R. Vess