Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

New and old body parts

Students may scoff at people during and before William Harvey's era thinking hearts were perforated, but the modern equivalent still happens. We may, as a world of people, be able to inventory DNA, but we're still refining the basic functions - or existence - of parts of anatomy.

I've had two encounters with this this year. The first was learning that appendixes* almost certainly do have a function: as a reservoir of healthy gut bacteria, for repopulation after digestive ailments. Appendixes have been thought so useless that my mother (to give an example) was given an involuntary one, while the surgeon was operating in that general area anyways.

More recently, reading about the anatomy of lactation, I learned that until 2005, lactiferous ducts were thought to dilate into the "lactiferous sinus", which stored breastmilk; but further study showed that the lactiferous sinus does not exist. (Encountered on Wikipedia, source is here.)

If a previously-assumed part of the body can be shown to not exist in 2005 and the use of another to only be hypothesized in 2012, then people of the seventeenth century - and earlier ones - certainly have nothing to be ashamed of, living when they did, in guessing at other plausible explanations for the function of the heart and the movement of blood.

* I keep wanting to type appendices, but then you'll think I'm talking about books.


Sep. 22nd, 2012 10:33 am (UTC)
I was told in AP Biology (in 1993), that at the time, if "the abdominal cavity is opened for any reason, surgeons must, by law, also remove the appendix".

Whether this was actually true, I have not been able to confirm. But I know that I was aghast at the idea.

My feeling was pretty much that if it was there, it probably was there for a reason. :)