UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Why don't we have a large appendix?
Question Date: 2013-02-18
Answer 1:

Koala bears have a big appendix, because they eat lots of plants - eucalyptus leaves, mostly - and so they need special bacteria, and a longer time, to digest all those tough leaves. We can eat meat as well as plants, and we've cooked some of our plants for a long time, so we don't need so many special bacteria or such a long digestion time to digest our food.

Animals that eat lots of tough plants, such as guinea pigs, also have a big cecum, which is a pouch between the appendix and the large intestine. That's also for digesting the tough plants. We only have a little cecum, too.

There's a new idea, that the appendix keeps our gut bacteria safe when we get diarrhea and lose most of the bacteria in our guts. Scientists are still learning, even about things, such as the appendix, that we've known about for centuries.

Keep asking questions! Best wishes,

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use