It is generally believed that this little hanging bulb of flesh has no specific function, i.e. it is a phylogenetic vestigial organ that once served some function, now long gone.
Is it just a useless piece of flesh?
Over the years, human beings have evolved and the uvula would have lost its original function and the litttle nub remained a remnant of what it once was.
But the uvula is not the only vestige of the past that has survived in our body. The coccyx, the male nipples, the appendix or the hair on the skin are also some of the vestigial organs still present in our anatomy.
These were all included in a list of 86 vestigial organs, drawn up by Robert Wiedersheim in 1893. Since then, and with more advanced and rigorous scientific research, it has been shown that some of these organs do have a specific function, but not the uvula.
An actual function for the uvula
However, it is now understood that it keeps you from choking by activating the gag reflex if a object larger than normal passes through the back of the throat. In other words, it prevents food from going from the mouth to the nose and down the throat, preventing choking.
In addition, its forward and backward movement helps to prevent the throat from drying out and to keep it lubricatedand moist. However, these functions can still be carried out perfectly well without the uvula, as there are people who have had it removed for health reasons and this has not caused any inconvenience in their lives.