Vestigial Organs in Cells

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Vestigial Organs in Cells

It is well known that animals have a variety of vestigial organs. To be short, as I was studying the evolution of cells, I wondered if these also existed in cells. After a few brief google searches, I found no results. I would expect a few things to be left over in cells or bacteria because (to my knowledge) 1. Mutations occur at a faster rate in cells 2. Cells reproduce significantly faster than multi-cellular organisms and 3. Seem to be necessary for organs to be produced. Please let me know if I am wrong in any of those statements.

As I was researching the evolution of the flagellum, I saw that most of the parts, of course, had their own role without being irreducibly complex. However, I saw that in the very beginning stages, holes in the cell wall came about, and proteins just happened to attach to these holes. If scenarios like these can be observed today please let me know. I don't see how anything could evolve if it didn't happen, but I didn't find any information on this occurring. Thank you for reading.

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chimp3's picture
Why are you asking this on an

Why are you asking this on an atheist forum vs. a biology forum?'s picture
I thought that atheists would

I thought that atheists would be educated on this matter, and I also thought that it could apply to debate because creationists use this point often. If you could point me to a biology forum I will gladly delete this post. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm not on forums very often.

chimp3's picture
No inconvienence! This

No inconvienence! This concern with cellular vestigal organs does not trouble me so I have not researched the issue deeply! I did take Microbiology in college. I remember the idea that mitochondria may have been assumed into our cellular structure in the distant past. Would this constitute "vestigal" ? Coming from one Eukaryote to another?

SeniorCitizen007's picture
I have seen a suggestion that

I have seen a suggestion that the "junk" DNA present in complex organisms can be thought of as a "record" of that organisms experiences over long periods of time and that when the organism evolves as a consequence of its exposure to a changing environment its evolution is to some degree governed by an "intelligent" process that makes use of its "store of knowledge". The idea being that evolution is not exclusively governed by random chance. "Intelligence" may not just be something that requires a brain within which to function. It could be operating in our DNA.

Cognostic's picture
Beyond my range of Knowledge.

Beyond my range of Knowledge.... I'm an atheist and a psychotherapist, not a biologist. If you find anything interesting though, please share.

arakish's picture
Mitochondria. rmfr



Sheldon's picture
Good post, but of course we

Good post, but of course we all know that the specious propaganda espoused by the barking mad & delusional creationists lobby, that there are organisms that are irreducibly complex, is not supported by any empirical evidence, and the entire global field of Biology, excluding creatards, acknowledges this.

Tin-Man's picture
Re: OP

Re: OP

What the hell???.... *perplexed look*... When did it become necessary to have a degree in microbiology just to be an atheist? Wish somebody would have told me. As it is, I learned just enough about it to simply pass the tests in biology class waaaaaaay back in high school. Gonna have to have a talk with the AR management about this. I saw nothing in the Atheist Rule Book about required degrees to be an atheist. Would have been nice to know.... *storming off down the hallway*.... Cyber!!!... Nyar!!!...

(Now to go see what everybody else posted...)

Grinseed's picture
Don't fret Tin, you're

Don't fret Tin, you're covered. AR rules insist the only academic qualifications you require is to be able to master simple additions (see Captcha...obviously created by a dyslexic mathematician). If however that's still a problem just keep entering the number 4 until its accepted as the answer, works for me every once in a couple hundred attempts.

arakish's picture
@ OP

@ OP

And I just realized. There ain't no organs inside cells. There are cells inside organs. That is like asking which ship is a boat able to carry.


jamessc's picture
I'm not sure about the

I'm not sure about the flagellum example because I haven't looked into much about its functioning or evolution.

Could an organism evolve an organelle which then later on became redundant and lost its fitness value? I don't see why not in principle.
Why would we not see many? perhaps because evolving an organelle is a much more significant, rare event that typically took place far earlier in our history than evolving an organ.I'd say multicellular organisms have a lot more opportunity wriggle-room for evolving new structures because they have the division of labour between cells. This makes it a lot easier to make a new structure. You can have different cells subjected to slightly different chemical environments turning on or off certain genes to create different tissues types working in harmony which gives you an organ.
within a single cell, you don't have that option. Your options for creating a structure with a function is much more limited. the whole cell is for the most part going to be subject to the same chemical environment so every gene you evolve is either going to be on or off so you have to just evolve a set of genes which in your normal chemical environment will be turned on or off in the right configuration that those genes will code proteins and those proteins will need to have the right chemical functionality to react with each other and chemical substrates (food)in such a way that they happen to produce a large structure like the endoplasmic reticulum, or flagellum which carries out a useful function.
I might not have done a good job explaining why but this latter single-celled way of having to create a structure with a function is much more difficult to achieve than the multicellular way of creating a structure with a function. each protein will usually only carry out a single chemical reaction , and a structure like an organelle will probably need several chemical reactions to specify its structure and create it. each new protein that's necessary to create the organelle is like threading the needle of unlikelihood because these proteins are just bouncing around inside the cell all at once and you can't get any restricted environments and division of labour like you can with multicelled organisms.

So evolving an organelle is generally much more of a big deal that generally happened far earlier in the history of life than evolving a multi-cellular organ and these organelles themselves can be seen as more fundamental and always-used so it's less likely that an organism would ever find itself in an environment where that organelle' fitness benefit was 0 and so it fell into disuse.

It's an interesting question though and I wonder what a real biologist would say about it. also I think something similar will probably have been asked on a biology or science stack-exchange or reddit with a more qualified answer.

arakish's picture
"Could an organism evolve an

"Could an organism evolve an organelle which then later on became redundant and lost its fitness value?"

The appendix.


jamessc's picture
when I say organelle, I'm

when I say organelle, I'm referring to a structure within a cell, e.g. the endoplasmic reticulum, the mitochondria, the chloroplasts, the nucleolus, etc. whereas an the appendix would normally be called an organ.

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