Professor Sam Drogo and the ADI Drogo Scholarships

23 Nov
A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.

A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.

Until his sudden passing in 2010, Sam Drogo spent his entire 36 year career teaching human anatomy and physiology at Mohawk Valley Community College in upstate New York. He was then and remains to this day honored and respected by the many students and colleagues whose lives he touched during this time. He discovered the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society in 1991 at the Greenville, South Carolina conference and remained energized by and committed to the goals of HAPS since that time. In his involvement in HAPS as in his career at MVCC, he quietly led by example.  In his uniquely humble way, Sam created a life filled with initiative, accomplishment, and dedication to his family, students, colleagues and friends. In the process, he made us better people and better educators.

Sam Drogo, the man who inspired this scholarship.

Sam Drogo, the man who inspired this scholarship.

Sam had the mind of a scientist and the instincts of a teacher and mentor. As a scientist, he was curious, logical, dogged, and insightful. As a teacher and mentor, he was compassionate, engaging, enthusiastic and organized. He inspired students to rise to the intellectual challenges he provided and he quietly motivated his colleagues to be innovative. Later in his career, he was recognized by the State University of New York with a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Over his many years at MVCC, Sam quietly established himself as an important element in hundreds of wonderful success stories of students who overcame adversity and forged significant careers in place of lives not yet fulfilled. He shared his expertise and passion with colleagues across the nation and was recognized as a force for innovative and involved education. As one former student said after his death, “Remember, there are a lot of RN’s who can pay it forward because of Mr. Drogo.”

Bevo&HAPS Mafia

Drogo, leading member of the HAPS Mafia…and Bevo, the cow.

Sam’s involvement with ADInstruments goes all the way back to ADI’s origin as MacLab. He liked the product from the start and stuck with it through each and every new iteration. He loved how adaptive and modifiable the system was because it allowed for the creation of different new lab activities. Leading students in the performance of science in lab…those were the times Sam was at his best. He understood the ADI system well and, more than anyone, could manipulate and adjust it “on the fly” effortlessly in order to achieve success in lab. His feedback and interaction with ADI’s technical staff helped make the system better and more user friendly. It is because of the fact that Sam so ably modeled the skillful use of ADI technology as a teaching and learning tool that ADI established the Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award following his death. Those in HAPS who knew Sam well recognize what an honor it is to be selected for one of these scholarships.  Apply now – all HAPS scholarships are due December 1 this year.

Drogo doing what he loved most...

Drogo doing what he loved most…


ADInstruments has been generously increasing the number of Drogo Awards in recent years.

ADInstruments has been generously increasing the number of Drogo Awards in recent years.

Reward Great Teaching with Thieme

16 Nov
A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

In Fall 2014 the phone rang and it was Mike Roseman from Thieme, a publisher of textbooks.  Mike is the Director of Sales for North America.  Thieme had always had good experiences with HAPS and is a regular exhibitor at Annual Conferences and now he wanted to find ways to work with and support HAPS even more.  He asked what we thought would be a great way to do that, and so in addition to the 30% discount Thieme offers to all HAPS members and their students (just use code “HAPS30” at checkout), Thieme is helping HAPS celebrate great teaching.  It was as simple as that – Thieme wanted to help and a few months later, Terry Thompson was the first recipient of the HAPS-Thieme Award for Excellence in Teaching.  

As part of a larger partnership that includes 30% off all Thieme products for HAPS members and students, the HAPS leadership is proud to announce a new award to recognize and reward excellence in undergraduate A&P instruction.

As part of a larger partnership that includes 30% off all Thieme products for HAPS members and students, the HAPS leadership is proud to announce the second year of an award to recognize and reward excellence in undergraduate A&P instruction.

This award is important for HAPS because great teaching is the heart of HAPS.  The recipient of this award will be nominated by a peer, be vetted by a committee of dedicated HAPS members, and be celebrated at the Annual Conference.  This is the largest single award that HAPS offers, and it includes both a $1500 cash award and also complimentary registration for the 2016 Annual Conference in Atlanta.  

Come to Atlanta!

Come to Atlanta!

The recipient must attend the Annual Conference to receive his or her award.  But he or she also has to come because we’re not crazy– we’re not going to give an award for great teaching and then not get to experience some of that great teaching!  So the recipient also gives the HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching workshop, which gives us all an opportunity see the teacher in action.

Do you know someone who is a great A&P teacher?  Why not take a moment to nominate that person?  All you will need to do is write a few short paragraphs and get the person you are nominating to acknowledge that he or she is willing and able to come to the Annual Conference.   Like all HAPS awards, we have worked to make the application/nomination process as streamlined as possible.  

Nominations are due December 1.

Meet us in Atlanta– HAPS can help!

10 Nov
A message from the ComCom

A message from the HAPS ComCom

After last week’s post by HAPS Executive Director, Peter English, most of us are ready to make travel arrangements to Atlanta!  So it seems like a good time to talk about how HAPS can help you get there. Because if you’re looking for financial assistance in getting to Georgia in May, HAPS has your back.  Here are four awards available to help you make it happen.

NOTE:  ALL of these applications are DUE by Tuesday December 1, so get your things together and apply now!

The Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award
This award is given to someone who demonstrates innovative use of technology to engage undergraduates in human anatomy and physiology. Two awards are available, both sponsored by ADInstruments.
Award: Up to $500 to attend the HAPS annual conference.

Robert Anthony Scholarship
This award is given to new instructors in A&P with the goal of helping new faculty network with seasoned professionals during their first five (5) years of teaching anatomy and physiology by attending the HAPS annual conference.
Award: Pays for registration fee at the HAPS annual conference.

Contingent Faculty Scholarship
This award is set up to encourage Contingent Faculty to network with seasoned professionals by attending the HAPS annual conference.
Award: Covers registration fee at the HAPS annual conference.

HAPS Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Travel Award
This award is given to graduate students or postdoctoral students who attend and present at the HAPS annual conference.
Award: $400 cash and annual conference registration fee is waived.


See you in Georgia!

Come to Atlanta!

The HAPS Annual Conference: An Update

2 Nov
A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

A message from HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

HAPS is at a really exciting crossroads when it comes to Annual Conferences.  Each year we are growing, and we want to be sure to continue to be as inclusive as possible as we increase our capacity.  So for the next couple of years we are trying a few new things.

For several years we have conducted surveys about the pros and cons of having the HAPS Annual Conference over the Memorial Day holiday.  Surveys are always a 50-50 split of members who can and cannot attend a conference over that weekend.  The rationale for choosing that weekend has been that because folks would be off work on Monday anyway, it allows people to attend the conference using fewer vacation days.  Or alternatively to miss fewer days of teaching.  Apparently that doesn’t work for everyone.

Come to Atlanta!

Come to Atlanta!

For the Atlanta conference, we decided to see if we could include that 50% of respondents who cannot come over the Memorial Day weekend, and so we moved the Annual one week earlier.  In many ways this is as controlled an experiment as we can perform – Jacksonville 2014 was over the Memorial Day weekend and Atlanta is about as close a venue to Jacksonville as we’ll be seeing for a while.  We hope to see even more participation because of this move.

Aside from the choice of weekend, the format of the Atlanta conference is straight up HAPS: Welcome reception at the conference hotel Saturday night, update speakers and exhibitors at the hotel Sunday and Monday, and workshops at a host university Tuesday and Wednesday, and an optional outing on Thursday.

Salt Lake City is an amazing place and a bit of a contrast to the urban setting of Atlanta (and is also a Delta Airlines hub!).  The hotel properties vary widely, and the one with the most appropriate meeting space for exhibitors and update speakers is at a price point that we did not feel was conducive to a large turnout.  So in 2016 we will not be hosting the updates speakers and exhibitors at the hotel – we will be using the Salt Palace Convention Center!  By doing this we can reserve rooms for HAPSters in multiple hotels at multiple price points and continue to do all we can do to accommodate a variety of tastes.,_May_2012.jpg

Mark your calendar for 2017– and join us in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Using the Convention Center has necessitated some other changes – the welcome reception will be on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, the update speakers and exhibitors will be on Thursday and Friday, and the workshops will be at the university on Saturday and Sunday.  We will end in the early afternoon on Sunday, so anyone who wishes can catch a flight home Sunday night.  That means two Memorial Day Mondays in a row at home!

For exhibitors this means two entire holiday weekends at home with their families and friends.  We always appreciate the dedication and helpfulness of our wonderful exhibitors, and hope that these changes work well for them too.

2018 and beyond is still in process, but stay tuned for more updates and know that we are working diligently to make the HAPS Annuals as productive and fun as can be!

Evolutionary Anatomy – Walking Upright and Childbirth

26 Oct
A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

In the last installment of our evolutionary anatomy series, we talked about vestigial structures, those hold-overs from our evolutionary ancestry. This time we’re going to talk about some specific adaptations of the human body, and how often seemingly unrelated aspects of our biology are linked.

The example I will use are those features of our skeleton that are adaptations to walking upright. Our ape-like ancestors mainly used all four limbs to support their body weight while walking, probably similar to the way modern chimpanzees move. The transition to upright walking in the hominid lineage was accompanied by many anatomical changes that made our unique form of locomotion more efficient:

A figure showing the curvatures of the vertebral column (from eOrthopod).

A figure showing the curvatures of the vertebral column (from eOrthopod).

The curvatures in our lower backs and necks keep the majority of our weight over our hips and legs. Gorilla and chimps have a spinal curvature that is concave forward along the entire length – like a c-shape (also called a kyphosis). This is fine for them, because all the limbs are supporting their weight. We have the same shape to our vertebral column when we are born, but as we learn to walk, we develop the reverse curvatures (lordoses) in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions. So, although we say we walk with a straight back, it actually has 4 curvatures in it (2 in each direction) which give us the appearance of a straight back.

A figure showing the shape of the pelvis in a chimpanzee (left) and a human (right). In the center is the pelvis of one of our earliest upright-walking ancestors (from TalkOrigins).

A figure showing the shape of the pelvis in a chimpanzee (left) and a human (right). In the center is the pelvis of one of our earliest upright-walking ancestors (from TalkOrigins).

Our pelves are short, along with the shortened lumbar region of our vertebral column (with it’s lordosis). This is another feature that enhances stability. In apes, the pelvis and lumbar regions are very long, and the ilium (the ‘hip bone’ you put your hands on when they are on your hips) extends far up the vertebral column, almost to the rib cage. The shortened pelvis of human acts like a bowl for the abdominal organs, and the ilia are flared laterally, giving better mechanical advantage to the muscles that stop us from falling over when we walk (the main one being the gluteus medius).

A figure showing the Q-angle (from Physiopedia).

A figure showing the Q-angle (from Physiopedia).

Our femurs slant inward from the hips to the knees making all humans a little knock-kneed (the angle they form at the knee is called the Q-angle). This keeps the knees under the weight of the torso, which prevents the body from swaying side-to-side while walking. This slant is so distinctive that some hominid fossils preserve only the distal end of the femur and from this we can tell that they walked upright.

There are a number of other adaptations to walking upright – the orientation of the foramen magnum (down, not back), the loss of the opposable big toe, the lack of curvature in the fingers and toes, etc. But there was a cost to these adaptations to walking upright – many of these features often had direct implications for childbirth.

You don’t need to tell any mother (and most fathers) than human childbirth is painful. For most other mammals this is not the case. Think of a mother gazelle on the plains of Africa – it stands for the whole birthing process, and barely seems to notice that it dropped a newborn. The reason for this difference is that rearrangment of the pelvis. The pelvic outlet (the bony ring of the pelvis that limits the size of the birth canal) has been narrowed in humans. It is now just about as wide as a newborn’s head. This makes for a painful childbirth process. In other mammals, the pelvic outlet is much larger relative to the newborn, making their childbirth far less traumatic.


A figure showing the relative size of the pelvic outlet and a newborn’s head, chimpanzee on the left, human on right, and early upright hominid in the center (from Evolution and the Prehistory of Man)

This has important implications for child rearing as well. Humans are born altricial – poorly developed. A newborn human is relatively helpless. It can’t move well on its own, can’t obtain food, and can’t communicate well. (Some might argue that this helplessness continues well into their teenage years…) A big reason for this is that humans can’t be born too developed, especially with a much larger brain, because of that limitation of the birth canal size. In contrast, think back to that baby gazelle. Soon after it’s born it can get around on it’s own, and even find it’s own food (although mother’s milk provides the main part of nutrition for a while). This is called precocial development.

A question you should ask yourself after hearing about these trade-offs is why our hominid ancestors took to walking upright in the first place. There are actually a number of theories about this, ranging from freeing the hands to carry objects from place to place, to being able to see over talk savanna grass. The reality is that there were probably numerous reasons why this transition happened, so no one theory can offer an explanation.

Next time we discuss one of the most bizarre quirks of human anatomy that can only be explained through evolution.

The HAPS Video Premiere!

18 Oct
A message from the ComCom

A message from the Communications Committee.

The HAPS video was released this week and it is a great snapshot of all that HAPS can do for its members.  Using interviews of HAPS members to provide the narrative, the video showcases the ways in which people’s lives have improved because of their involvement in HAPS.  From promotions to new positions to getting questions answered on a daily basis, HAPS membership harnesses the power of our members to lift everyone to new heights.

HAPS is well known for its Annual Conference.  Every year a growing number of people come together to share four days of update speakers and workshops, as well as very productive time with exhibitors who share the latest in teaching resources and technology.  And the HAPS Annual is a great conference to attend solo – everyone is happy to meet you, share what they know, and also maybe buy you a drink in the evening. People quickly go from acquaintances to friends.  The HAPS Annual is great, and the more you are able to attend, the better they get.

But there is so much more to HAPS that improves the lives of members all year round.  The HAPS-L discussion group is an incredibly active email discussion group that solves real world problems for HAPS members on a daily basis.  The HAPS “listserv” began in 1998 and has now matured into an online discussion group with a Google Group backend, while retaining its old school name.  

HAPS scholarships and grants make previously unattainable travel or research plans possible.  Many cover expenses to attend the Annual Conference, but others reward using technology in the classroom or just plain old excellent teaching.  

And finally, among most important benefits of being a HAPS member is the career advancement that comes from being part of the HAPS community.  HAPS has an extremely inclusive path to leadership and the video highlights both the ability to join leadership and the benefits that come from it.  

We invite you to watch the video and share it, especially with your A&P friends who are not HAPS members yet.

Journal of a New HAPster: Shani Golovay

12 Oct

HAPS is a society focused on the teaching and learning anatomy and physiology.  We’re always looking for new members to join the community.  Check out some thoughts from new HAPSter, Shani Golovay.  

Meet Shani Golovay, a new HAPSter.

Meet Shani Golovay, a new HAPSter.

“But I have a degree in Plant Biology.  I don’t really know anything about Human Physiology, except what I teach in General Biology.”  And this started my journey to HAPS.

I found the HAPS website to be helpful as soon as I joined. I hunted down the Course Guidelines  and Learning Outcomes right away because I needed a syllabus and some ideas on how much content to cover in the course.  Then I found the Guided Inquiry Activities by Murray Jensen. I tried out the activities with my students right away- and they loved them.  I was starting to feel like I could teach this class after all, and I felt like I had a giant community of people helping me that I didn’t even know.

I learn more from the HAPS email listserv then I do from most professional journals I receive.  I was amazed how open and helpful everyone was with each other.  I look forward to the listserv conversations and I learn so much. It was so refreshing to find a whole group of people willing to share their expertise with those of us way out of our area. If I emailed someone a question, they would explain things and even send me documents or ideas.  I am much more confident about teaching this Human Physiology class because of HAPS.  I think Human Physiology may be my new favorite class to teach because of all the awesome ideas I get from other HAPSters.  I was telling my colleagues about this society where everyone was nice and actually helpful and wanted to share ideas about teaching and everyone was impressed and a bit jealous that I had found such a group.

I am just so grateful to find a community of people where those with experience and lots of talent are willing to help those of us just starting out with these classes.  We need each other because we can’t talk about this sort of stuff over dinner except with each other, right?

The best part for me was the annual meeting, but that is another blog post…..

Why I Decided to View a Dissection

5 Oct
A message from Erin O'Loughlin, honorary HAPSter since she was 3 years old.

A message from Erin O’Loughlin, honorary HAPSter since she was 3 years old.

My name is Erin O’Loughlin, and despite the fact that I am not a HAPS member, I have been attending its conferences since I was three years old. As the daughter of a former HAPS president, I have been granted many incredible opportunities in the realm of science, including the chance to view and assist in the dissection of a cadaver. I hope to interest and enlighten readers by presenting information about the experience through the eyes of a student.

When daydreaming about their summers, most high school students envision themselves lying on the beach, dancing at a concert, or sleeping under the stars; not so much standing over a cadaver. But instead of swimming at the pool or barbecuing, I spent more than 30 hours observing and assisting in a dissection during my vacation. The cold, pungent environment of a lab is no substitute for a warm summer day; however, the experience was well worth my time.

Erin with her mama, HAPS President Emeritus Valerie Dean-O'Loughlin, at her first HAPS Annual Conference in Maui.

Erin with her mama (HAPS President Emeritus Valerie Dean-O’Loughlin) at her first HAPS Annual Conference in Maui.

In a word, my summer break was unusual, and many people were curious as to why I decided to spend it with a cadaver. My reasoning is as follows: Although coming face to face with a deceased human being is an intimidating task, I could not pass up the incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge of anatomy and better understand my own body and its functions at such a young age.

For most of my life, I was unaware of many of the anatomic complexities supporting my existence every second of every day of every year. Being able to visualize and understand the human body is an incredible gift and I encourage any student who is presented with the opportunity to view or partake in a dissection to take full advantage of it.

And to those who spend a lifetime in the presence of cadavers, offering high school students more opportunities to view a human body is a fantastic way to encourage a respect for anatomy and educate a number of individuals who will undoubtedly benefit from the knowledge.

I would also like to thank two incredible HAPS members, Keely Cassidy and Barbie Klein, for their patience, expertise, and generosity in allowing me to observe and assist in their dissections.

HAPS Eastern Regional Conference: October 3!

27 Sep
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

Don’t forget to register for the HAPS Eastern Regional Meeting! Online registration will be closing on Wednesday, September 30th (registration will be available on-site).  The meeting will be hosted by Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Maryland on October 3rd and will feature presentations from Jeffrey Hollar and Dr. Donna DeCosta.

Wor-Wic Community College is a great place to become a better teacher!

Wor-Wic Community College is a great place to become a better A&P instructor!

HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson is the Conference Coordinator for the event and she’s excited about what the day will hold. There is one hotel available for those looking to stay after the regional meeting. The Hampton Inn has given HAPS a discounted rate of $80/night for reservations made October 3-5. Reservations can be made HERE.

And check out some of the workshops that you can explore:

  • Using online narrated video clips to improve student learning
  • Maryland’s Body Donor Program: Onsite Clinical Training Labs  to Advance Medical Education, Clinical Practice and Research Study
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Using Cases and Discussions in an Online Physiology Course
  • Arterial blood Gases Made Simple
  • Paper strips and arrow diagrams:  Two simple student activities to
    enhance linear thinking and learning of cause and effect events
  • The Do-Re-Mi’s of A&P: Teaching Interactively with Content-Rich Jingles
  • Generating “Aha!” Moments with Inexpensive, Everyday Props
  • Less Blah, Blah Blah; More Aha – Best HAPSter Demos II
  • And more and more and more….
Come join the fun.

Come join the fun.

So go ahead and get your HAPS fix now.  There’s no need to wait until May in Atlanta to get your HAPS on!

Current registration rates:
HAPS Contingent Faculty Member – $85
HAPS Members – $95
Non-Member Contingent Faculty – $105
Non-Member – $125
Student – $35

HAPS Eastern Regional Conference:  Schedule for Saturday, October 3, 2015

 Time Event Location
 7:30 – 8:30 AM Registration & Breakfast with Exhibitors Hazel Center
 8:30 – 9:00 AM Welcome Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 9:00 – 10:00 AM Update Speaker 1:
Jeff Hollar
Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 10:00 – 10:45 AM Workshop Session 1  Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floor
 10:45 – 11:15 AM Break with Exhibitors Hazel Center
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Workshop Session 2 Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd floor
 12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch Hazel Center
 1:00 – 2:00 PM Update Speaker 2:
Dr. Donna DeCosta
 Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 2:00 – 2:30 PM Break with Exhibitors Hazel Center
 2:30 – 3:15 PM Workshop Session 3 Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floor
 3:20 – 3:45 PM Closing & Door Prizes Hazel Center

Evolutionary Anatomy – Vestigial Structures

20 Sep

Welcome to a new series on Evolutionary Anatomy by Dr. Tony Friscia.  Dr. Friscia’s research program has focused on the evolution of early Tertiary mammals and their diversification into modern families, using extensive anatomical and functional knowledge as a basis for comparison.

A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

With the constant drive to prepare for allied health careers, one thing both students and even instructors of anatomy often forget is that anatomy is a sub-field of biology. Theodosius Dobzhansky, a founding member of the field of population genetics and one of the architects of the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary biology, famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.” So by corollary, nothing in anatomy makes sense except in light of evolution. As recognition of this fact, this is the first in a multi-part blog arc about the evidence for evolution in human anatomy. For me, this connection offers a richer picture of anatomy, and often helps to illustrate points that even our allied health students can appreciate.

There are some well-known, obvious examples of this connection. The appendix is one of these. It’s what’s called a vestigial structure. This means that it although it has no obvious use in humans, it is a holdover from our evolutionary history. Looking at other mammals we can see that the appendix is used by many of them, especially herbivores (plant-eaters) as a key part of their digestive processes. The fact that we retain the appendix speaks to our shared ancestry with these animals. (Having said this, there is some evidence that the appendix in humans acts as a store of the various ‘good’ bacteria that aid in our digestion, but even this function hints at the connection to similar, but more extensive, use in other mammals.)

A comparison of appendices among various mammals

A comparison of appendices among various mammals (from Talk Origins)

One question I often get asked about these sorts of vestigial structures, whether it be appendix or wisdom teeth or something else, is “Will we ever lose this structure?” Student wonder if it will be ‘evolved’ away, and the answer is a bit more complex than it might appear, and we need to go back to the fundamentals of evolutionary theory.

Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection added the necessary mechanism to evolutionary theory. Evolutionary thought was around before Darwin, by some accounts going back to the Greeks, but there was no good mechanism for it. One of the pre-Darwinian contenders for an evolutionary mechanism was Lamarckian evolution via acquired characteristics. Lamarck believed that the usage of morphological adaptations provided the selective mechanism for evolution. We now know this to not be the case. (Just think about it for a minute – if you work out, will your children be born with bigger muscles?) Nevertheless that Lamarckian idea hangs on a bit, because it makes some amount of logical sense. It is from this that the students’ questions about the loss of vestigial characters arises; if we aren’t using the appendix it should go away.

A key part of Darwin’s Natural Selection is the concept of fitness – a combination of the ability to survive to adulthood and to reproduce. When students ask me if the appendix is ‘going away’ I retort with, “Does anyone die of appendicitis anymore?”. In places with access to modern medicine the answer is no. Even if someone has the bad luck to have an infected appendix burst, spewing its biological weapons into the peritoneal cavity, we have a slew of antibiotics that can help most victims. So if the appendix doesn’t affect survival or the ability to reproduce, will it ‘go away’? Not via the mechanism of Natural Selection.

Modern genetics (a piece Darwin was lacking, and was added in the Modern Synthesis of the 20th century) adds a caveat to this answer. We now know about the concept of mutation. Mutations can alter the development of body structures. Obviously a mutation in a critical gene, like one controlling head or heart development, will never last long in a population, because the individuals will probably not survive (or even be born; many of the most horrible malformations will be spontaneously aborted early in pregnancies). So there is strong selection to maintain working forms of these developmental genes.

If a mutation occurred in the gene controlling appendix development, it may not even be noticed. Eventually in a population, these mutations may build up, to the point where the appendix never even forms. With no Natural Selection maintaining the appendix, it may simply be mutated out of existence, although this process may take a long time.

Other evolutionary factors affect our morphology, and in the next installment, we’ll tackle the trade-offs that are often made through the course of evolution, and examples of these trade-offs in humans.

(Here’s a link to a more detailed discussion of the vestigiality of the appendix)


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