Vestigial traits under the microscope

Australian paleoanthropologist Darren Curnoe has been blogging at The Conversation, with some interesting posts. This week, he has written on the topic of vestigial organs and phylogenetic inertia: “Were carrying evolutions excess baggage so why cant we let go?”

Dubbing them vestigial assumes of course an absence of function, or perhaps disuse. Rather, this turns out to have been wrong in almost all cases, reflecting our ignorance as scientists rather than evolutions inertia.
When it comes to the fossil record where function is so much harder to determine the debate is normally over whether ancient features truly reflect the lifestyle of an organism or whether they might simply be evolutionary excess baggage.

He includes the obvious – wisdom teeth and the appendix – and nonobvious with a handy list.