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malian caecum are structurally homologous by usualsystematic criteria. Within the gastrointestinal tract of many mammals, particularly primates, the end of thecaecum and the vermiform appendix share the same rel-ative position; both have a similar structure and form,both are blind sacs enriched with lymphatic tissue, andboth share a common developmental origin [7, 8]: a con-clusion that was further confirmed by cladistic system-atic analysis . A vermiform appendix is not unique tohumans: it exists in all the hominoid apes, includingchimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons, and it isfound to varying degrees in several species of both NewWorld and Old World monkeys . A few other mam-mals appear to have an organ similar to the hominoidvermiform appendix, including the wombat and SouthAmerican opossum (both marsupials), some rodents,and the rabbit. However, extensive comparative analysishas shown that the caecal appendixes of humans andthese other mammals were derived from the caecum in-dependently, and accordingly, these anatomic structuresare not homologous in origin . Contrastingly, creationist authors and advocates of in-telligent design have argued that the appendix is not ves-tigial in an evolutionary sense, because, being functional,it appears to have a creative design and organization as if formed according to a plan for a specific purpose. In thisway, creationists contend that vermiform appendix util-ity acts as evidence against evolutionary theory [12, 13]. Although the precise function of the human vermi-form appendix is still uncertain, many hypotheses havebeen made. Because the appendix is associated with sub-stantial lymphatic tissue, it was once thought to play arole in immune function. Although it was suggested by some authors that the appendix itself could be the site of B-lymphocyte induction (a bursa of Fabricius equivalent), recent conjecture favours the localization of this bio-logical programming in the bone marrow. The appendixmay still play a role in this highly significant task, but notby itself. Its lymphoid tissue is conclusively known to beinvolved in antibody production (the function of B-typelymphocytes), especially the IgA type immunoglobulinsfor secretion or mucosal surface immunity as well as partof the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) . Thissuggests that the appendix plays a specific role in im-mune function, a theory further supported by the factthat the appendix is a priming site in the development of ulcerative colitis [16, 17], and so appendectomies seem tohave a protective role in patients who undergo them be-fore 20 years of age . Some other authors have pro-posed that the human appendix is well suited as a ‘safehouse’ for commensal bacteria, providing support forbacterial growth and potentially facilitating re-inocula-tion of the colon in the event that the contents of the in-testinal tract are purged following exposure to a patho-gen . This could explain the observation that appen-dectomies have been reported as a significant underlyingrisk factor in functional gastrointestinal disorders, likeirritable bowel syndrome [20, 21]. However, if the vermiform appendix does indeed havea specific function in humans (even as part of a largermulti-organ system), it would be an example of an organthat is not adapted, but rather exapted. Exaptation is awell-known and accurately described mechanism of evo-lution that must be properly distinguished from adapta-tion. Adaptation, a central concept in evolutionary biol-ogy, describes a trait that evolved by natural selection be-cause it served a particular function, while exaptationinstead refers to shifts in the function of a trait duringevolution. The idea that the function of a trait might shiftand reconfigure itself during its evolutionary pathway was originally proposed by Charles Darwin, who cited asevidence the swimbladder in fishes versus the lungs of other vertebrate animals , as well as the various fertil-izing contrivances of orchids . Unfortunately, formany years the phenomenon was inappropriately labeled‘pre-adaptation’, a term suggesting planning and fore-thought, contradictory concepts to the basic principles of natural selection. Later, in 1982, the prominent paleon-tologists and evolutionary biologists Stephen J. Gouldand Elisabeth S. Vrba defined the idea of ‘exaptation’ as‘features that now enhance fitness, but were not designedby natural selection for their current role’. This term,which subsequently found major applications in the fieldof evolutionary biology, underscores the universal role of ‘redesign’ in the evolution of complex biological mecha-nisms and includes 2 categories: (1) a character trait, pre-viously shaped by natural selection for a particular func-tion (an adaptation), is co-opted for a new use; (2) a char-acter trait whose origin cannot be ascribed to the directaction of natural selection (a non-aptation), is co-optedfor a current use . A multi-stage example of exapta-tion involves human hands, which evolved to facilitatetool use and are an exaptation of primate hands that wereused for grasping tree branches. Those primate hands, inturn, were an exaptation of front legs that were used forlocomotion on the ground, and those legs were an exap-tation of the fins of fish, which were used for locomotionin the water. As this lineage exploited different ecologicalniches (water, land, trees, and eventual ground-level tooluse), natural selection progressively reshaped its limbs.