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Human fetuses have tails, proving that evolution is true


Date published: 7/5/2005

It's always an aural pain when the scientifically illiterate beat their chests on the topic. Several individuals writing to The Free Lance-Star have claimed that biological evolution is a "belief" ["Evolutionists refuse to hear other perspectives of creation," June 23].

That would be completely false, since evidence stands for itself, and that's the reason biological evolution has solidly held its own the last 150 years.

Evolutionary theory contains fact--such as that life appeared on Earth 2 billion years ago--like atomic theory, the theory of gravity, or germ theory of disease.

If the religious fundamentalists (as they apparently are) prefer a more sensational "sign" of "macro-evolution," consider that since 1921 scientists have documented hind limbs in baleen, humpback, and sperm whales--several complete with digits.

Or better, consider that every human fetus has, at between four and five weeks of age, 10-12 developing tail vertebrae that extend beyond the anus and legs, accounting for more than 10 percent of the length of the embryo.

The embryonic human tail is composed of several complex tissues besides the articulating vertebrae, including a secondary neural tube (spinal cord), a notochord, mesenchyme, and tail gut.

Each also is endowed with voluntary muscles in the core, blood vessels, nerve fibers, nerve ganglion cells, and specialized pressure-sensing nerve organs.

The tail is covered by normal skin, replete with hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands.

By the eighth week of gestation, the sixth to twelfth vertebrae are completely eaten up by white blood cells, shrinking also the fourth and fifth, until all that remains is the bone that is our fused coccyx, buried underneath skin.

Yet all is not always lost--there have been cases when the human baby is born with its tail largely intact! Photographs of these cases can be found at the University of Iowa's Virtual Hospital on the Web.

Eric Albright

Fredericksburg