Vox’s evidence for evolution from vestigial traits in humans

June 14, 2022 • 2:00 pm

Here’s an old video from Vox that shows morphological evidence for evolution in the human body based on vestigial organs and traits. Most of these can be found in Why Evolution is True, but it’s good to see them in video like this.

This takes the website back to its original aim: giving the readers evidence for why evolution is true.

32 thoughts on “Vox’s evidence for evolution from vestigial traits in humans

  1. Looking at the various animals in the video, I was wondering
    why did humans “de-volve” such that we’re the only animals which wear clothes?

    1. We evolved in the hot climate of Africa where the ability to sweat took precedence over the protection of body hair. In fact, the ability to sweat might be one of the very most important adaptations in the evolution of humans. There just wasn’t enough time from when we moved out of Africa into the colder climates to evolve a natural thick coat.

      1. “We evolved in the hot climate of Africa where the ability to sweat took precedence over the protection of body hair. In fact, the ability to sweat might be one of the very most important adaptations in the evolution of humans.”

        But apes and monkeys sweat, too.
        And the gorillas in outside zoos in northern climates look just like the ones in Africa.

        “There just wasn’t enough time from when we moved out of Africa into the colder climates to evolve a natural thick coat.”

        How did the furry animals in colder climates survive before the climate forced them to evolve natural thick coats?

        1. One hypothesis, espoused in “The Naked Ape”, Desmond Morris 1967, I think, was because it looked sexy. I agreed with that when I was in my prime beading phase. 😜

    2. I’d say when we lost our hair, there was a need for clothes. My question is why and when did humans lose most of their hair?

    3. “De-evolution” isn’t a thing. Evolution has no goal or direction.

      Obviously, when self-replicating molecules first emerged on earth about 4 billion years ago, such molecules had only one direction in which to evolve — toward more complexity. But organisms now can move toward more or less complexity. (See, for example, cave fish that have lost their eyesight.) The random mutation of genes occasionally results in new phenotypes. Nature selects those phenotypes that are better adapted to their environment or (in the case of sexual selection) better able to attract mates. Such organisms reproduce at a greater rate than organisms without the new trait.

      It is, of course, more complicated than that, but that should suffice for present purposes.

      1. Snake ays are my favourite. They became vestigial when snakes adopted an underground lifestyle (as did their legs) but then came functional again as snakes returned to above ground living. Only the changes weren’t simply reversed, new mechanisms arose. For example, unlike lizards and other tetrapods, they don’t focus by changing the shape of the lens, but by moving it backwards and forwards.

      2. “Evolution has no goal or direction.”

        I noticed (IMO) that creationists have a view that everything is created (not surprising), and this arises from a certain book with a certain chapter on, wait for it, creation. They love this notion of “creation”.

        HOWEVER, as Darwin wrote, quite precisely, the species definitely share an _origin_. That is a distinction worth making when creationists start making noise – evolution might have no direction, but the products of evolution share an _origin_. But This does not mean they are “created”. The pathway is one of _change_. Because entropy comes up eventually…. matter can be neither created nor destroyed…

        … I get the feeling this isn’t helping.

      3. (In haste)

        Consider, the counterpart to this :

        The elements MIGHT be thought of as being “created”, but in fact stars were destroyed, being the _origin_ of the elements. The stars _changed_.





        There’s nothing _being_created_ here, as a cake is created by a baker.

        I think the creationist is hooked on the music of the language – literally. Not surprisingly.

  2. Gotta get back to your roots sometimes, huh, boss?

    So it’s adrenaline that gives us goosebumps even in the absence of cold? I get ’em every time I get to the last page of Gatsby, with Nick Carraway ruminating on Dutch sailors first setting eyes on Long Island, brooding about the green light on Daisy’s dock, and imagining boats beating against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

      1. Oh no – I made an error!

        Not Lark, but (for me of course) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. What in the world is it with that piece – its like from another planet, or some supernatural transfiguration.

    1. When, why, and how did adrenal glands evolve, and how did animals survive for millions/billions of years without them?

      1. Have you read our host’s book after which this website is eponymously named? You’ll find the answers to such questions there. You can buy it by clicking on any of the bookselling websites listed at the upper right corner of this page.

      2. I’d have to guess that adrenal glands evolved very early, going back at least to fish. I’d also guess that hormones generally evolved from primitive chemical reactions in unicellular beasties. (Not an expert).

      3. Adrenaline (epinephrine) is used for cell signalling by sponges. There has literally never been an animal without adrenaline.

  3. Thanks, I would have missed this.
    Too bad we evolved out of our tails. Would be convenient some days.

    1. Imagine trying to play poker if you had a tail that wagged like a puppy every time you’re happy. Yes – I’ve put some thought into this…

  4. That was a good, concise video, thanks for posting it. The only vestigial trait I didn’t know about (or forgot I knew about) was the wrist tendon. I have them in both arms.

      1. This is your fourth comment on this thread out of 10 total. Have you read the posting rules, on the left side bar. If not, please do and don’t exceed the requested number of comments. And, by the way, the comment above doesn’t make sense.

        1. My apologies. I wasn’t aware of the 10% rule.
          May I consolidate my three “awaiting moderation” posts into one?
          Will my comments be posted when they total less than 10% of all comments?

  5. Sam Harris says (im paraphrasing here) ” what evidence could you offer to people who don’t value fact based evidence? What logical argument can you make to convince a person who doesn’t value logic? The conversation is essentially over”.
    I fully appreciate what you do. Keep on keeping on. Posts like this at least help keep the rational from absolutely losing it.

    1. Sounds like something you might’ve wanted to raise when the person administering the wedding vows invited those in attendance “to speak now or forever hold your peace,” Ian. 🙂

  6. Somewhat predictably, the Neanderthal evolution deniers have a ‘rebuttal’ to this vid. Answers in Genesis have a vid on YT by this title ‘Anatomist Dr. David Menton Responds to “Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body”‘.
    Yet again, he/they misunderstand what is and is not being claimed, perhaps wilfully. For example, he states that the arm tendon and muscle is still functional whilst evolutionists claim it is not functional, and that is why they claim it as evidence or evolution. The Vox vid does NOT say that at all! The point by Vox is the presence or absence of them from person to person, not about function!
    There are several examples of what must be wilful ignorance; the all-too-common misunderstanding of what vestigial does and does not mean. A prime example being an irrelevant set of historical statistics. These purport to show that claims of functionless body parts totalling 180 dating back to 1890 have subsequently nearly all been shown since to have function. The irrelevance here being that ‘functionless’ is often not the claim at all, rather a change in degree of function, change in function altogether, an absence of the trait etc. These things are what vestigial means, Dr. Menton, NOT exclusively ‘loss of function’!
    Finally, a swipe attempted at evolutionists by stating “evolution needs to tell us, ‘how do we get new organs?, not how do we lose the organs and functions we already have’. I need not explain the failures any more here…pathetic.

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