Q: Can you name seven "useless" human body parts?
A: You might start with wisdom teeth, says Judy Dutton
in "Mental Floss" magazine. Are you among the 5% of people
today with room for them? "Back in pre-toothpaste days when
molars fell out, wisdom teeth were handy backup chompers."
2. Tonsils in the back of the throat filter out
bacteria and viruses but are prone to infection, and many
kids have them removed. Luckily for adults, tonsils shrink
with age and usually stop causing trouble.
3. Probably not as useless as once thought, the
appendix may store beneficial bacteria for repopulating the
gut after an illness.
4. The coccyx at the base of the spine consists of
three to five vertebrae fused together, "remnants of our
5. "Arrectores pilorum" are mini-muscles that long ago
made our ancestors' body hairs stand on end to conserve heat
and to make us look bigger, frightening off enemies.
"Today, all they do is create goose bumps."
6. About 1 in 200 people has a set of spare ribs to go
along with the normal 12 sets; all chimps and gorillas have
an extra set near the neck.
7. Pinky toes: Our ape ancestors used all their toes
to grab and swing from branches. Modern man can remain
upright using his big toe "with a little help from its three
neighboring piggies. The fifth is just along for the ride."
Send questions to StrangeTrue@compuserve.com.