MAY 27, 2019 6:47 AM PDT

Many Animals Have Tails, So Why Not Humans?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Most vertebrates in the animal kingdom sport tails of some sort. Birds and fish use their tails as steering mechanisms to glide through air and water respectively, geckos use their tails to store fat, and rattlesnakes use their tails to stave off predators; but most mammals, on the other hand, use their tails for one thing only: balance.

As it turns out, most tailed mammals are quadrupeds, and they require this balance because the head is quite heavy and tends to weigh down the front of the body. The tail acts as a counter-balance, reducing strain on the animal as they walk head-first.

So, this brings us to the big question: why don’t humans have tails? Simply put, we don’t need them; humans walk upright, which prevents the head from imposing an imbalance as it would in a quadruped. Although we have tailbones, they seldom fully develop into a tail because natural selection has chosen otherwise.

Many of humans’ closest relatives in the animal kingdom, including apes like chimpanzees and gorillas, also lack a tail. These creatures can even walk on two legs, and so the need for a balancing tail isn’t as critical to them. Albeit less related, many monkeys sport tails because they necessitate additional balance due to their walking style and tree-climbing habits.

Don’t fret fellow humans… you don’t have a tail because you don’t need one. Besides, just think about how awkward it would be to put on a pair of pants if you had a tail…

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 19, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAR 19, 2020
What's the Ocean's Oxygen Budget?
Have you heard the statement, “every other breath you take comes from the ocean?” Oxygen-producing phytoplan ...
MAR 30, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 30, 2020
Packs of Humboldt Squid Rise From the Deep to Feed
Deep-sea dwellers are among some of the most intriguing marine creatures in the world, partly because it isn’t ver ...
APR 08, 2020
Neuroscience
APR 08, 2020
Study Catalogs Mouse Facial Expressions
It's easy to gauge a dog or cat's emotion by reading their facial expression, but the same has been historically ...
APR 27, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
APR 27, 2020
Cold Foods Don't Taste as Good, Even to Flies
The deliciousness of a food appeal is about a lot more than just taste.
APR 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 27, 2020
Minor Dental Work Helps This Turtle Eat Again
It seems like turtles are always hungry. Just the mere mention of food gets their heads bobbing, and don’t even ge ...
MAY 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 15, 2020
How breathable are our changing oceans?
A study from researchers at the University of Washington examines the breathability of the California Current, the cool, ...
Loading Comments...