Many mammals have tails, and I wanted to find out why. I know that dogs use their seats to convey emotion and that some monkeys use their hearts to swing from branch to branch. I also wanted to determine which mammals do not have chairs and why we do not.
Mammals use their tails in various ways. They use them to show emotion, such as a dog wagging its tail. They can use them to protect them from wintery conditions, such as an arctic fox, and they can also use them to aid in balance, navigation and even to keep flies away from their bodies.
The tail is essential to many mammals, and I wanted to discuss how different mammals use tails to their advantage.
What is a Tail?
The tail is a section at the rear end of certain animal bodies. A tail is a flexible appendage to the torso. The tail is also regarded as the hindmost part of an animal, especially if the tail points out from the rest of the body.
Almost all mammals have a tail. The tail can be short, curled, or long. Tails have evolved for specific purposes depending on the animal.
Why Do Mammals Have Tails?
Tails assist animals in maintaining balance. The bottom is used to help animals keep upright and balanced. The bottom helps many mammals navigate tight spaces and small gaps, acting as a rudder to direct the animals through thick undergrowth.
Bats have tails, despite their small body size. They use the bottom to steer when flying and also to help maintain balance when sitting. Bites of bats without a seat find it more challenging to maneuver in the air than bats with tails. For bats with tails, this appendage helps them when flying. Bats can navigate more easily and turn faster when they use the bottom and wings.
Another example of a tail-aiding balance is when a dog is running at high speed. When the dog tries to take a tight turn, they use its seat for stability. The centers serve the purpose of aiding the dog in keeping its balance.
Mammals use their tails in many ways. Please find out more in this article I wrote.
Animals use their tail to communicate. Most mammals have seats, and they use them to share with others. For instance, a dog wagging its tail serves a lot of functions. They may communicate that they are happy, but this is not always the case.
The different tail positions also communicate much meaning from what the dog thinks. When the tail is high, it is an indication that the dog is alert. It can also be held high to portray dominance. This indicates happiness if the dog’s tail is held high but also wagging. This can also be shown as a sign of alertness.
According to recent research, a dog’s wagging tail direction means different emotions. A tail wagging to the right means that the dog is feeling good.
Their tail often wags to the right when they are with someone they know or when seeing someone he or she knows approaching. When the dog wags its tail to the left, it means the dog is with someone who they do not recognize and is a sign of showing dominance.
Mammals use tails to express emotions. Dogs use their seats to express affection and hold them straight out when angry. They will wail their hearts when happy from one side to another.
Cats hold up their tails for affection and wag their tails mostly when they are displeased or upset.
Horses also use their tail to express emotions by swishing them when in pain or stress. They raise their seats when excited and alert to dangers. A seat pointed straight down to the ground can show nervousness.
Mammals use their tails for self-defense and survival. Animals use their seat to protect themselves from predators. Rats are known to shed off part of their tail when attacked by the bottom, allowing them to escape.
Animals use the tail to keep flies away. Flies disturb animals so much, and the bottom helps them keep them away. A good example is a cow, especially on a warm sunny day when flies buzz around their heads and bodies. It can be disturbing and irritating; a cow uses its tail to brush away the flies.
Animals use their tails to protect themselves from cold. Animals that live in colder regions curl up and use their furry tails to cover up their nose from the cold. Arctic foxes use this mechanism, especially at night when it is even colder.
Sea mammals use their tails to navigate through water. Whales have a tail fin, which they use to propel themselves through the water. They also use their bottom to slap on the water’s surface to communicate.
The tails of some whales, like humpbacks, have distinctive markings that enable researchers and scientists to identify each whale personally.
Why do Some Mammals Have Tails When Humans Don’t?
It is believed that a million years ago, humans had tails and that we used them for the same reasons stated above. But today, humans, unlike other mammals, do not need seats for these reasons.
Human embryos do have an appendage that looks like a tail. This starts at about four weeks of age, but white blood cells dissolve at the bottom between six and twelve weeks.
To be able to understand the reasons why we do not have a tail anymore, we need to look at these reasons. Humans walk entirely upright, whereas monkeys walk with their chests diagonally to the floor when on two feet.
We do not need a seat to balance upright, unlike four-legged mammals. Humans’ ability to walk upright on two legs prevents the head from overbalancing us, as it would in four-legged mammals.
Despite the tail disappearing through evolution in humans, we still have a tailbone. The tailbone, also known as the coccyx, is a triangular bone resembling a shortened tail located at the spine’s bottom.
The tailbone is an attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It also serves as an insertion point for some of the forces on the pelvic floor. Another essential function is that the tailbone supports and stabilizes a person while he or she is sitting.
Do all Mammals Have Tails?
There is a range of more than 4000 species of mammals worldwide, and most mammals have tails except humans and some species of bats. Both had seats at once but evolved, disappearing and becoming almost invisible.
Unlike hair, being warm-blooded, being fed milk, and being born alive, tails are not a classification factor to determine if an animal is a mammal.
Mammals that do not have tails are the hog-nosed bat and humans. Despite not showing visible seats, they both have a tailbone (coccyx). The tailbone does not protrude externally.
Tails in animals are used in various ways and are essential to four-legged mammals. The bottom serves to:
- Helps in locomotion for marine mammals.
- It helps animals brush away the flies.
- It helps to keep balance.
- Allow some animals to grasp tree branches.
- For social signaling and to help escape from predators.
- Help bats steer and maneuver in flight.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.