Yes, over there is a good tale behind the disappearance of tails from monkeys to humans

By Dr Andi Horvath, university of Melbourne


Humans love the idea that a tail – simply ask my five-year-old niece that dresses up with her dinosaur tail, wags it favor a dog and uses it together a weapon.

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Tails are virtually standard worry in the animal kingdom. Fish usage them for propulsion, crocodiles usage them as fat reserves, lizards autumn them as decoys, rattlesnakes use then together warning devices, hooved animals use them as fly swatters. Some primates can grip with them.

Artic Fox sleeping with that tail wrapped together a blanket

Dr David Young is a zoologist who wrote a seminal textbook The exploration of development and is manager of the Tiegs Museum, at the college of Melbourne.

“Tails in mammals often serve as a counter balance come the head and also assist an pet in movement, especially running. If you look in ~ wild cats, ones that run very fast have actually longer tails.”

“Similarly the tree-dwelling primates of Africa and Asia, such together macaques, have long tails, i m sorry they use for balance, as they move roughly on all fours.”

Humans do have actually a tail, however it’s for only a brief duration during ours embryonic development. It’s many pronounced at approximately day 31 come 35 that gestation and also then that regresses right into the four or 5 fused vertebrae becoming our coccyx. In rarely cases, the regression is incomplete and also usually surgically gotten rid of at birth.

So what taken place to the tail in the evolutionary journey from chimpanzees to apes come us?

“Humans belong to a group referred to as the good apes, and along with chimps, gorillas and also orang-utans, none of us have tails. The lesser apes prefer gibbons don’t have actually tails either and also they provide us a clue regarding how not having a tail deserve to be one advantage.

“Gibbons space able to use their lengthy arms to swing indigenous branch come branch in the treetops that south-east eastern forests. As they waver along, the trunk and also legs hang below giving the human body an upright posture. A tail would just acquire in the means and be a nuisance come this type of locomotion.”

Gibbons usage arms for balance

“Gibbons can additionally walk bipedally along branches making use of their arms because that balance. A tailless upright attitude is additionally well suited to rise tree trunks.”

In various other words, these pets are naturally upright, unequal old and new world chimpanzees that usage all fours. Both are suited to their survival in their certain environments.

“The upright stance in apes is permitted anatomically through a much shorter lumbar region and the ns of the tail. In addition, the shoulder scapula bone is situated at the back as opposed to the sides together it is in monkeys, therefore gibbons room able come raise their arms and swing indigenous them,” Dr Young says.

“But compare this to brand-new world monkeys of southern America, favor spider monkeys, who likewise use all fours, however have prehensile tails, which method they deserve to use their tails prefer an extra hand.”

New world monkeys are a different group much removed indigenous old people monkeys, and also not a part of the monkey ape lineage.

So the difference in between monkeys and apes, tail and no tail, is a matter of adaptation come a details environment. Together it happens, the upright stance v no tail, i m sorry is good for moving in trees, is also great for leave trees and also walking top top the ground. V a couple of adjustments, this permitted early humans to walk and jog over grassland and also take up an completely new means of life.

So be glad girlfriend haven’t gained a long tail once riding a bike or to run for one elevator.

Banner image: Flickr


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Why don’t humans have actually tails? Dr David Young

Humans love the idea of a tail – just ask mine five-year-old niece that dresses up through her dinosaur tail, wags it prefer a dog and uses it as a weapon.

Tails are nearly standard concern in the animal kingdom. Fish use them because that propulsion, crocodiles use them together fat reserves, lizards autumn them as decoys, rattlesnakes use then together warning devices, hooved animals use them as fly swatters. Some primates can grip v them.

Artic Fox sleeping with the tail wrapped as a blanket

Dr David Young is a zoologist that wrote a seminal textbook The exploration of development and is director of the Tiegs Museum, in ~ the university of Melbourne.

“Tails in mammals regularly serve as a respond to balance come the head and assist an animal in movement, particularly running. If girlfriend look in ~ wild cats, ones the run very fast have longer tails.”

“Similarly the tree-dwelling primates of Africa and Asia, such together macaques, have actually long tails, which they use for balance, as they move approximately on all fours.”

Humans do have a tail, however it’s for just a brief period during our embryonic development. It’s many pronounced at about day 31 to 35 the gestation and also then it regresses right into the 4 or 5 fused vertebrae becoming our coccyx. In rare cases, the regression is incomplete and usually surgically removed at birth.

So what happened to the tail in the evolutionary trip from monkeys to apes come us?

“Humans belong to a group referred to as the an excellent apes, and together with chimps, gorillas and also orang-utans, no one of us have actually tails. The lesser apes prefer gibbons don’t have actually tails either and they provide us a clue regarding how not having actually a tail can be one advantage.

“Gibbons room able to usage their long arms to swing native branch to branch in the treetops that south-east eastern forests. Together they swing along, the trunk and also legs hang below giving the body an upright posture. A tail would just get in the means and be a nuisance to this type of locomotion.”

Gibbons use arms because that balance

“Gibbons can additionally walk bipedally along branches utilizing their arms because that balance. A tailless upright posture is also well suitable to rise tree trunks.”

In various other words, these pets are naturally upright, unlike old and new world chimpanzees that use all fours. Both room suited to your survival in their particular environments.

“The upright stance in apes is permitted anatomically by a shorter lumbar an ar and the loss of the tail. In addition, the shoulder scapula bone is positioned at the earlier as opposed to the sides together it is in monkeys, for this reason gibbons space able to raise your arms and swing from them,” Dr Young says.

“But to compare this to brand-new world primates of south America, like spider monkeys, who additionally use every fours, however have prehensile tails, which method they have the right to use their tails choose an extra hand.”

New world chimpanzees are a separate group much removed native old world monkeys, and not a part of the monkey ape lineage.

So the difference between monkeys and apes, tail and also no tail, is a matter of adaptation to a particular environment. Together it happens, the upright stance through no tail, i m sorry is an excellent for moving in trees, is also good for leaving trees and also walking top top the ground. Through a few adjustments, this permitted early people to walk and also jog end grassland and also take up an entirely new method of life.

So it is in glad you haven’t gained a lengthy tail once riding a bicycle or to run for one elevator.

Banner image: Flickr

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