TALE OF TAILS !      

You will be amazed to know more about this most fascinating part of the animal body!

I was wondering to note why James Cameron was very particular to create his Avatar with a long tail. What would have happened to us if we would have continued to have such tails. Probaby we would have not invented an aircraft and we would have been happily jumping from one tree to another tree – just kidding!

The two tails which always attracted me is, one our pet’s Doggy tail and the other is of Gecko’s,the lizard.
See our dogs, see their eyes  and how nicely they wagg their tail -Is there any better way to express love and emotions?
And the other tail which always surprised me, a gecko's! A Gecko uses its tail to trick a predator. If an animal bites the gecko’s tail, the tail breaks off / detach  their tails from their bodies. The piece of tail left behind keeps wriggling, which helps to keep the enemy occupied while the lizard runs away to safety.The gecko easily escapes but what is interesting is that later it regenerates and the tail grows back.
Unfortunately we and higher animals miss this phenomenon of regeneration, but except our organ liver nothing grows back. Interestingly, if Star Fish is cut every one part will grow into a new Star Fish.

How does an animal use its tail? Not all those have tail uses it for the same purpose.

Dogs wag their tails with intensity when they are excited; Cats’ tails are angry.
Spotted Salamanders have poisonous tails which can hurt a predator.
Porcupine uses its quills, sharp hairs that cover a porcupine’s tail to scare away animals that want to eat it!
Squirrels have all-purpose tails.  A squirrel uses its tail to balance on tree branches and prevents falling. They use them to cover themselves like a blanket when it is cold or like an umbrella when it rains.  Their tails even serve as a shield in a fight with an enemy.
A Howler  uses its strong tail to help it swing from branch to branch.
A Whale uses its tail flukes to swim fast to catch prey. Different tail shapes have evolved in sharks adapted for different environments. The tail provides thrust and so speed and acceleration are dependent on tail shape.
The tails of grazing animals, like Cattle and Horse is used both to sweep away insects.Tails are also used for social signaling. Some Deer species flash the white underside of their tails to warn other nearby deer of possible danger.

The Pangolin, a scaly anteater, wraps its tail around itself and curls up into a ball to protect itself from predators.
Giraffes not only have the longest necks but also the longest tails in the animal kingdom.
Kangaroo can’t jump if you hold its tail off the ground because it uses its tail for balance.
Lobster always enters its burrow, tail first.
Goats hold their tails up while walking whereas sheep’s tails hang down when they walk.
Gila Monsters, a lizard species, store food in their tail for use when they fall ill or are unable to hunt for food.
Monkeys generally have tails and Apes don't.
The Titi monkey which has a peculiar manner of resting.  When a titi wants to rest or sleep, it will sit on a branch with other titis, in little groups of twos, threes and fours and wrap its tail around the tails of the others in the group.  The tails form a spiral shape.  The titi’s tail is longer than its body.  While its body is barely 35 to 40 cm long, the length of its tail is anywhere between 35 and 50cm.

Birds also have tails, but they are not visible.  A collection of feathers has taken the place of the real tail which has been reduced to a mere stump. It helps it to keep its balance when it is standing or perching and is important in flight for steering and braking.  Some birds like the woodpecker use their strong tails as a third leg and some like the birds-of-paradise use their tails to attract mates during the breeding season.
In some species—such as Peacock, Birds of Paradise and Lyrebirds—modified tail feathers play an important role in courtship displays.

Besides frogs, many monkeys and great apes like the Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Barbary Apes have no tails.  They have strong arms which help them to swing from tree to tree.  Similarly, the loris, a cat like animal with a triangular face and enormous eyes has no tail.  It uses its sharp claws to climb trees.
Tailless animals are sought after by people in several parts of the world.  In many countries it is considered fashionable to keep tailless Manx Cats as pets.  These cats cost several thousand dollars.

There was a time when humans did have tails.  Prehistoric humans looked much like animals and even walked at times on all fours.  Slowly they started to walk like the modern man and they  no longer needed a tail to maintain their balance.  So the tail gradually reduced into the coccyx or the tail bone we have today.  The tail bone is found at the base of the backbone.  Though it looks like one bone, it is actually a set of five small bones fused together.
Human embryos have a tail that measures about one-sixth of the size of the embryo itself. As the embryo develops into a fetus, the tail is absorbed by the growing body. The developmental tail is thus a human vestigial structure.
Infrequently, a child is born with a "soft tail", which contains no vertebrae, but only blood vessels, muscles, and nerves, although there have been several documented cases of tails containing cartilage or up to five vertebrae.

A 13 year old racing horse named Summer Breeze has a tail measuring 3.81 m, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the longest ever for a horse.The tail was of normal length when Summer Breeze was born.  As the horse grew, the tail started growing at an amazing rate.


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