There is an enigmatic gland which seems to be hidden away in the human brain that has fascinated people for centuries. Depictions of pine cones and sacred eyes have been linked to this mysterious biological feature and can be found in ancient cultures around the world.
What is the Pineal Gland?
The pineal gland (also known as the pineal body) is located in the epithalumus near the center of the brain. It is a part of the endocrine system and found outside the blood-brain barrier. It is reddish-gray in color, conical in shape, and about the size of a pea. The pineal body is found in most vertebrate species and biologists have classified the gland as an atrophied photoreceptor, or a vestigial eye, depending on the species of interest. Although the human pineal gland is relatively easy to see on modern x-rays due to high levels of calcification, it is only recently that some light has been shed on its biological purpose.
Dissection showing the ventricles of the brain – note the central position of the pineal gland (pineal body), here colored in grey. (Public Domain)
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