Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Anal glands in all kinds of animals play a range of diverse functions - providing fat for preening feathers or waterproofing fur, generating distinct scent, even repelling predators.

None of the resources I found about human anal glands ever mention their function. There's info or infections, location, treatment of problems related to them, but never a word about a role they might serve - if any. Are they vestigial organs without any role or do they have some evolutionary purpose?

share|improve this question
never heard of a human anal gland – WYSIWYG Aug 14 '14 at 15:58
@WYSIWYG: Here. – SF. Aug 14 '14 at 16:02
my anal glands produce a distinct scent... – MattDMo Aug 14 '14 at 17:29
@MattDMo: uh... comparing to whose? No, wait, scratch that question. – SF. Aug 14 '14 at 19:31
This question may have more to do with a depreciation in the ability to detect anal secretions than with the function of the glands themselves. – mattkaeo Aug 15 '14 at 8:57
up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are vital if not incredibly useful in many other mammals but not humans. People have tried to look for a role and seen that they activate in times of stress or anxiety. However this probably only serves to heighten both stress and anxiety as you now also don't smell that great either. There is no identifiable role in humans apart from causing a variety of disorders such as an abcess.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.