Since surviving in the wild like our ancestors did, us humans have undergone some dramatic changes. We’ve lost certain capabilities and gained others. Through evolution, some parts of our bodies have disappeared and others have appeared. Let’s take a look at the traces left on our bodies as evidence! Here are 10 parts of your body that prove you’ve evolved.
Humans used to have tails that assisted us with balance and mobility. However, as time passed we didn’t need them anymore, so we eventually lost them. Proof for this is the presence of our coccyx, more popularly known as the tailbone.
This bony structure is found at the end of our spine and looks like a small fused bone. All mammals had a tail at some point in their development, even you did, at around 4 weeks of gestation. Our embryos are similar to that of other vertebrates, showing a visible tailbone.
Like apes, tail-cells are programmed to die. However, in rare circumstances, a mutation allows our ancestral tail to form. Many of these people have had their tails surgically removed. But was it truly useless?
Various sources say that it was actually very useful. Despite being a vestigial tail, it served as an attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It’s also said to be an important component in weight-bearing when sitting down.
So, that being said, it is proof of our past, yet it still has a function to this day, no matter how minimal.
9. Palmar Grasp Reflex
This reflex proves that evolution is not just evident in body parts, but can also be observed from behaviors that disappear over time. One of which is what’s called the palmar grasp reflex.
Have you noticed how a newborn will hold onto anything, say a finger, when it gets its hands on it? This is the Palmar Grasp Reflex.
Newborns instinctively hold tightly onto anything that even during sleep, this reflex activates. And it isn’t just with hands; it can also be seen by their feet as well. So, what is the point of this exactly?
Some suggest this vestigial trait comes from infant primates who hold on to their mothers. As the child grows, this behavior also fades.
So simply put, it’s something that keeps a young baby safe from falling, although of course, I don’t suggest you try having one hang by a stick! That would just be extremely reckless!
8. Third Eyelid
Have you watched “Men in Black” where Will Smith chases someone, and then this person blinked sideways as if he had a third eyelid? Freaky, isn’t it? But the thing is, we used to have that, too!
That’s right, we used to have a nictitating membrane, and all that’s left of it is that tiny pink fold at the inner corner of your eyes.
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Other animals, such as fish, reptiles, and birds still have this membrane. Its main function is to keep the eyes safe from debris.
So, why don’t we have it anymore?
Long story short, we no longer have any use for it. We depended on our eyesight for hunting a lot more in the past, so much that we had third eyelids that kept our eyes moist without having to blink. But now that we live in groups and don’t hunt as often as before, it went away, leaving that pink tissue behind.
7. Wisdom Teeth
One of the biggest pains of growing up is having wisdom teeth. It’s a painful process when it emerges, and if you’re unlucky, it might even grow in a way that pushes your other teeth! And that’s an expensive trip to the dentist! But did you know that’s actually a remnant of evolution?
The prehistoric version of man is thought to have had bigger jaws and rather unrefined culinary tastes in comparison to how we eat now. They had a great need for 32 teeth and our extra molars played a vital role in chewing food.
And then evolution came. We learned how to use fire and cook what we eat. Our jaws became smaller, so there isn’t much space for the 32nd molar anymore.
© Neo Gaf
And you know what, some are even lucky to not grow any wisdom teeth at all!
6. Wiggling Ears
Now here’s a neat trick that some of you might have seen at parties. Can you wiggle your ears without actually touching them? Like they do it on their own? Well, that’s yet more proof that we have evolved.
So, how do people do it? It’s all down to the three muscles attached to our outer ear known as auriculars. Those who can wiggle them have pretty strong ear muscles, to say the least.
Other mammals do actively use these muscles that allow their ear to move, assisting them with locating the sources of sounds. Just look at a cat when they try to listen and you’ll see the muscle in action.
So why aren’t we equipped with super nimble ears anymore? Again, it’s due to the fact that we no longer need to be as good at hearing as when we were hunter-gatherers. Interestingly enough though, we can still detect that our ears move instinctively to subtle sounds.
Research confirms this as electrodes fitted onto ear muscles detected a response from test subjects when they were exposed to subtle sounds.
When was the last time you felt the hair behind your neck and arms rise? Was it after feeling a sudden chilly breeze on a hot day? Was it when you listened to a memorable song that pulled strings within you? I’m talking about goosebumps, and yes, they’re yet more proof of how we’ve changed.
You see, our hairs stand on end because of what we call the arrector pili muscles. These are also present in other mammals, such as cats, which appear larger when threatened. So for one, they’re used to show dominance.
They’re used as protection from the extreme cold. Raised hairs increase the space between each hair, providing animals with better insulation. Just look at a puffy bird freezing its feathers off. So that explains why they appear when we’re cold, although showing dominance through goosebumps may have served us long before we were hairy.
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As for goosebumps when we remember something; you can attribute that to adrenaline. It stimulates a flight-or-fight mechanism brought about by extreme emotion, causing that undeniable physical manifestation!
Before going onto the next one, Let’s have a little trivia question. Aside from fame, what do Mark Wahlberg, Lily Allen, and Harry Styles have in common? The answer is: they all have the next vestigial trait.
4. Extra Nipples
Yes, Mark, Lily and Harry all have extra nipples. That’s kind of weird, right? Well, not really. In fact, it’s estimated that 5% of the world’s population has more than two.
You can attribute them to our development during the embryonic stage when something goes awry. But it’s not necessarily harmful to anyone. Some people could have three nipples, some four, and there’s even a guy who had a total of seven nipples!
But how is this proof of evolution? For starters, other mammals, such as dogs, have numerous nipples and it served them well since they have more than one offspring per birth. Apparently, there was a time when our ancestors were able to have more than one child as well, so there’s the use!
3. Palmaris Longus Muscle
Here’s what I want you to do. With your palms faced up, make your thumb and your little finger touch each other. Do you see a line on your wrist when you do that? That’s the palmaris longus muscle.
This tendon that you just saw on the underline of your wrist is actually a sign of evolution. And the thing is, only 14% of the population don’t have it! But what exactly does it do?
You see, it’s believed that our ancestors relied on the wrist’s flexibility for locomotion, and the palmaris longus muscle played a huge role in that.
If you try to look at other animals, such as monkeys, they have extremely developed tendons that help them swing from one tree to another. Now it somehow makes sense how we are related to them!
For us modern humans, however, it has minimal to no effect at all. As a matter of fact, surgeons often use them for cosmetic surgery and other grafts. If anything, it’s a subtle sign that we’ve changed.
2. Plantaris Muscle
We already know how the palmaris longus muscle supposedly aided us in swinging from tree to tree, right? Now if you observe primates, they also use their feet! And the foot counterpart is the plantaris muscle.
Unlike the palmaris longus, you can’t see it just by looking at the area. You have to properly examine it and it can only be recognized by visualizing the muscles. It has been considered as a weak contributor to flexing the foot, thus it’s considered a vestigial trait.
So how was it probably used in the past? It helped us with navigating from one tree to another not just with our hands, but also with our feet.
But since evolution kicked in, we no longer need the plantaris muscle as we effectively walk on our two legs.
1. Eye Color and the Epicanthic Fold
They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. Little do we know that they can also tell us about how we’ve evolved!
Take the color of our eyes as an example. Its commonly agreed that our earliest ancestors came from the continent of Africa. Because of their direct exposure to ultraviolet rays and warm temperatures, their skin turned dark and influenced their genes. The same genes are also responsible for our eye color. Thus, the first prominent eye colors were either dark brown or black.
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It was during migration to other parts of the world that new eye colors, also influenced by other factors, came to be. As for blue eyes, its thought that they helped humans withstand the dark, depressing days of the Neolithic European winters better than those with brown eye colors.
Another mystery, to do with our eyes is the epicanthic fold, commonly associated with people of Asian descent. Many theories have arisen to explain it. Some believe the fold acted as a sun visor protecting the eyes from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation or as a blanket insulating them from the cold.
Others, however, contradict this, saying that a substantial portion of the Asian population evolved in areas outside of the tropical and arctic regions.
Dr. Frank Poirier, a physical anthropologist at Ohio State University instead attributes the fold to pleiotropic genes, which are single genes that control more than one characteristic or function–but he has no explanation for its origin.
Despite its origins, it’s still proof that we’ve changed. And they don’t call it a mystery for nohing!
Which evolved body parts astounded you the most? And, are there other vestigial features that you can add to the list? Let me know on the comments below.