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Vestigial Facts

2687270083_5ff424a722_m.jpgAs Alan mentioned, we come across a vast array of offbeat stories, odds and ends, and data that, try as we might to stretch those 1,008 pages, just doesn't make the cut at the end of the year. LiveScience's "Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs)" slideshow unfortunately fell into that category. Along with the usual nods to human wisdom teeth, appendix, and male nipples, are a few lesser known functionless parts, including whale leg bones, dandelion sex organs, and this:

In an experiment designed by nature, the species of fish known as Astyanax mexicanus, dwelling in caves deep underground off the coast of Mexico, cannot see. The pale fish has eyes, but as it is developing in the egg, the eyes begin to degenerate, and the fish is born with a collapsed remnant of an eye covered by flap of skin. These vestigial eyes probably formed after hundreds or even thousands of years of living in total darkness. As for the experiment, a control is needed; and luckily for us, fish of the same species live right above, near the surface, where there is plenty of light, and these fish have fully functioning eyes. To test if the eyes of the blind mexicanus could function if given the right environment, scientists removed the lens from the eye of the surface-dwelling fish and implanted it into the eye of the blind fish. It was observed that within eight days an eye started to develop beneath the skin, and after two months the fish had developed a large functioning eye with a pupil, cornea, and iris. The fish were blind, but now they see.
Top 10 Useless Limbs (via VSL)

Photo: Charles & Clint


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