Vox's "Proof Of Evolution That You Can Find On Your Body" Video Will Blow Your Mind
Despite the theory's wide acceptance in the scientific community, many Americans remain skeptical of evolution today, although it's certainly not for a lack of evidence. In fact, Vox's "Proof of Evolution That You Can Find On Your Own Body" video makes it clear that the evolution is alive and well in all of us. (Yes, including you.)
Even for those who acknowledge the existence of evolution, the process is rarely discussed in terms of its present influence on humans, although that is beginning to change. We point to the developments thousands of years ago that led to our current state — the expansion of our brains, bipedalism, and so on — or even relatively recent examples of natural selection in other species, like the oft-cited example of the peppered moth. (Moths with dark wings abruptly became more common in 1950s Britain after coal smoke darkened the trees, allowing them to blend in with the trees.) However, we have more in common with animals than many of us like to remember, and the human body is full of these remnants of evolution.
Many of these reminders take the form of vestigial structures, or seemingly useless body parts that haven't been phased out of our bodies yet. "Look closely and you'll see body parts that aren't there because you need them, but because your animal ancestors did," Vox's video explains. These structures aren't useful any more, but they're not detrimental enough to hurt our chances of survival — and so they stick around.
"These remnants of our deep history only make sense within the framework of evolution by natural selection," the video says. Most of us are aware that the coccyx, aka the tailbone, is what's left of our ancestors' tails, but Vox's video lists a number of lesser-known examples. Let's take a look at a few below.
1. Palmaris Longus
The palmaris longus, a muscle found in your forearm, is useful for many mammals when climbing or grasping things — but it's totally useless in humans. In fact, some of you may not have it in one or either arm.
2. Ear Muscles
Similarly, three of our ear muscles were useful for locating the sources of sounds as nocturnal mammals, but they're largely ineffective today, unless you count being able to wiggle your ears as a party trick.
For mammals with fur coats, the ability to stand their hairs on end provides much-needed insulation or an increase in size to scare off predators. For humans, however, this just gives us goosebumps.
Of course, vestigial structures aren't the only evidence backing up evolution, but they're certainly some of the most compelling. To learn more about evolution in humans, head over to the Smithsonian's website. You can check out Vox's video below.
Images: urbazon/E+/Getty Images, Vox/YouTube (3)