We have body parts we don’t need. Some are only useful in childhood; some are redundant; and some are leftovers from when we didn’t walk upright. Evolution takes a while to make adjustments, so we all end up with bits and pieces we don’t actually need anymore. However, for a lot of these spare parts, children are starting to be born without them, so that’s kind of cool. What parts are they? Here are 25 Useless Body Parts You Can Actually Live Without.
Arrector Pili Muscles
These are tiny tiny muscles attached to our hair follicles. They’re what gives us goosebumps by contracting in order to make the hair stand up. Yeah, we don’t really need them.
Technically tonsils are lymph nodes, which in general are pretty darn important (if you like having a immune system). But Tonsils often get infected and inflamed so repeatedly that they just get removed. Many times they are just more trouble than they’re worth. That we’re aware of, no one has ever died due to lack of tonsils.
The Appendix is currently useless because we no longer need it to digest high levels of cellulose. (We cook our food now! Which yes, decreases nutrients, but it makes the remaining nutrients more readily available to our body. Overall it’s a win to cook your veggies.) Since we don’t eat large amounts of raw plant matter, the appendix generally just gets infected and bursts, sometimes. It’s totally not fun, but so common about 2 in 20 Americans have had their appendix yanked out. They don’t even TRY to heal it, it’s that useless. The first issue, they just cut you open and take it. Tis a shame they can’t re-activate it for raw vegans though.
Wisdom Teeth were quite useful once upon a time, when humans had a more caveman-esque diet. However they aren’t necessary now. Most people have them removed as they hurt quite a bit and can cause a whole host of issues, including migraines. However, evolution seems to be taking notes, and now some people are born without wisdom teeth! Yay!
A muscle starting under the shoulder at the first rib to clavicle (collarbone), called the Subclavius Muscle, isn’t really helpful once your species starts walking upright. Some people still have them though.
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Some people have a small folded bit of skin towards the top of their ear. It’s called Darwin’s Point, and it’s just a remnant of when our ears needed to be shaped differently for survival, as such a shape would’ve allowed us to hear distant sounds, alerting us to both danger and potential foods.
Some people are born with small holes near their ears that are supposedly where our ancestors had gills. They’re called preauricular sinus, and they don’t do anything other than possibly get infected.
Adenoids are lymphoid tissue, like your tonsils (but aren’t your tonsils) located in the throat at the very back of the nose. Supposedly they’re part of the immune system and trap bacteria to help keep you healthy as a child, and then shrink and become useless as we age. However, some children have to have theirs removed and it doesn’t seem to cause many issues. Even if yours don’t make you miserable as a child, they’re useless once you’re an adult. Just shrunken lil knobs of useless tissue, hanging out.
The gallbladder is a pouch that holds bile (made by the liver) and slowly releases it into the digestive tract. It also makes painful stones and can cause problems from cancer (which spreads to necessary organs) and inflammation. Most people that have to have it removed don’t notice much of a difference.
We have a lot of redundancy organs. So okay, technically they aren’t useless, not even a little bit; they’re actually quite awesome. But you can and could happily get by your whole life with one kidney, or only one ovary, or only one testicle. You only need one of these organs for them to perform their function. If you lose one, the other compensates, even in the case of testicles and ovaries when they need to regulate hormone production.
The Palmaris Muscle
This muscle runs from the elbow to the wrist and is a narrow muscle that we really don’t use for anything. It’s theorized that it was once used for hanging and climbing, but now surgeons will harvest it for reconstructive surgeries if needed.
There’s a group of muscles that surround the ear and are used by some animals to move their ears around towards noises or to flatten them to show unhappiness. They’re called Auricular muscles, and humans have these too, but they serve no purpose. Mainly because we aren’t cats. It’s why some people can wiggle their ears; they’ve learned to control these muscles.
At this point, about 9% of people are born without this muscle (which is in the foot). For those who are…it’s not really of any benefit. Unless you’re a primate grasping things with your feet.
Enjoying this list? Be sure to also check out 25 Strange Birth Defects Few Kids Are Born With.
Reptiles and birds have third eyelids, and humans just have…a tiny bit of one left in the corner of our eye that does nothing. It’s called the Plica Semilunaris, and it hangs out next to the tear duct.
The Philtrum is the small dent between your nose and upper lip. When we’re forming in the womb, it’s where our face connects. When it doesn’t connect correctly, babies are born with a cleft palate. Once that’s done though, there’s no need for it, despite millions of beauty gurus insisting we apply highlighter there. It’s basically just a visible seam from manufacturing.
We have explanations and uses for all the hair on our head – insulate our body temp, keep sweat out of our eyes…beards could even play a roll in sexual attraction. But what, exactly, is back and chest hair for? We don’t really “need” body hair.
There’s an organ found in the olfactory system (think: smell) of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles that isn’t functional in humans despite us having it. Known as Jacobson’s organ, it was used to detect pheromones, but we don’t use it or need it anymore.
We really don’t need the 5th one (the “pinky toe”) on account of walking upright and on the ground, instead of clinging to and swinging from branches. All lesser apes need 5 toes for these things. Having five full toes basically just lets us pick up dirty laundry off the floor. We could walk and run just fine with less than five.
Male what? Uterus…male uterus. Actually, we’re just making sure you’re still paying attention.
To clarify, no, men don’t have a uterus. However, all humans start as female in the womb. While scientists still debate, it’s thought that the prostatic utricle connected to the prostate in males came from the same ducts that develop into the female uterus. Basically, some view this utricle as remnants of what would have become their uterus. It basically serves no function, although that too, is debated.
There’s a tiny triangular muscle called the Pyramidalis Muscle that attaches to the pubic bone; it’s sort of like a pouch. It’s thought that it’s a remnant from pouched mammals. Either way, we don’t need it. 20% of the population isn’t even born with one, but the rest of us…we just kept it. Like the receipt in the bottom of your purse from over a year ago. Never fear though, like most unneeded body parts, if you injure it, it still hurts.
Cervical ribs, located above the collarbone, occur in very few humans, but enough that it’s a well known thing. Gorillas and Chimpanzees also have an extra set of ribs, instead of the standard 12 that most humans have. The extra set doesn’t do anything, and most don’t even know they have them; it could, however, cause neck pain in some people.
Paranasal sinuses are what most of us traditionally think of as our sinuses. As the name might suggest, they’re the four that surround our nose, and generally feel cruddy during allergy season and get infected and stuff. Yeah, we don’t need those. It’s theorized that our ancestors had extra smell receptors there, which would’ve been helpful in a hunter/gatherer society. Not so much in a society that has progressed enough to invent axe body spray.
Our tailbone is actually a group of fused vertebrae at the bottom of our spine. Also called the “Coccyx,” these bones are what’s left of our tails. No, really. We don’t need them. Humans lost the need for tails when we learned to walk upright. It would be kinda cool to still have tails, but apparently the universe in it’s infinite wisdom doesn’t let evolution work on the basis of “you know what would be really cool?”
Female Vas Deferens
These tubes are actually a reproductive part that starts off the same in both men and women. In males, they become the Vas Deferens which carry sperm; in females, they’re just…tubes to nowhere.
Well…at least if you’re born a dude. We all start out in the womb as female. Because of this, men still have nipples. However, most men will never develop breasts or feed an infant with their bodies. The actual purpose of a nipple on a human being is the same as a nipple on a baby bottle – to feed a baby human. If you don’t have a womb, you really don’t *need* nipples.
Photos: Feature Image: shutterstock (text added), 25. pixabay (public domain), 24. Klem, Tonsils 1, CC BY 3.0, 23-22. wikimedia commons (public domain), 21. Anatomography, Subclavius muscle frontal2, CC BY-SA 1.0, 20. Derived by LP from Ear with earring.jpg and Image:Macaca fascicularis.jpg. 2008-07-25, Darwin-s-tubercle, CC BY-SA 3.0, 19. Smooth_O contribs), Preauricular sinus, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. wikimedia commons (public domain), 17. BruceBlaus, Gallbladder (organ), CC BY-SA 4.0, 16. Peter van Driel, NL, Kidneys noun 524431 cc red, CC BY 3.0, 15. Takinzinnia, SD Zoo Orangs, CC BY-SA 3.0, 14-13. wikimedia commons (public domain), 12. de:User:Deniz, Membrana nittitante, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. pixabay (public domain//cropped), 10. Furry Beast via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 9. wikimedia commons (public domain), 8. pixabay (public domain), 7. Servier Medical Art via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 6. Plot Spoiler, Red Fanny Pack, CC BY-SA 3.0, 5. wikimedia commons (public domain), 4. Paranasal_sinuses.svg: *Head_anatomy_anterior_lateral_views.svg: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator derivative work: M•Komorniczak -talk- Illustration by : Michał Komorniczak This file has been released into the Creative Commons 3.0. Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 3.0) If you use on your website or in your publication my images (either original or modified), you are requested to give me details: Michał Komorniczak (Poland) or Michal Komorniczak (Poland). For more information, write to my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org, Paranasal sinuses numbers, CC BY 2.5, 3. BodyParts3D is made by DBCLS, Coccyx – lateral view04, CC BY-SA 1.0, 2. Rasbak, Rioolbuizen van kunststof (Sewer plastic pipelines), CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. Max Pixel (public domain; censor bar added)