Because of their varied roles in maintaining ecological balance, animals need all their body parts to function normally, as their physiology dictates. They need hands, feet, and, in some cases, hearts and brains to function correctly.
Virtually every animal species has a tail, and each uses it uniquely. But some creatures don’t have or use tails.
The lion, the tiger, and the wolf are well-known examples of animals having tails, but what about the species that lack them?
If you can believe it, the world is full of intriguing animals that lack tails. There was a time when many of these possessed tails, but they became extinct due to natural selection.
You may be familiar with the fact that certain animals don’t have tails, but you may not know which ones they are or why. This page will provide information about 15 animals that do not have tails. In other words, don’t miss a beat!
Why Do Animals Have Tails?
Tails serve a variety of functions in many animals, each of which is the result of specialized adaptations through time.
Some animals’ tails serve various functions, whereas the tails of others serve a more specific purpose. This post will examine how animals utilize their tails in the wild and their many roles.
While it is evident that some tails developed to serve a particular function or meet a specific physical demand, the reasons for the existence of other tails are less pronounced. There are some main uses for tails. Even though there are a variety of purposes, the most widespread ones are the ones listed below:
- Warmth or nourishment
- Defining territory
- Mating rituals
The length of an animal’s tail may vary greatly, from a little appendage that serves no use at all to a massive appendage that is half as long as the animal itself.
Human: Why Don’t Humans Have Tails?
Tails, which initially appeared at least 500 million years ago, have now assumed many functions. They’re used for storing energy by geckos. Birds rely on them as a means of navigation while in flight. Furthermore, rattlesnakes employ them to frighten away potential prey.
Nonetheless, they are primarily used by mammals for one thing: balancing.
However, tails go extinct as you progress up the evolutionary tree toward humans. They are missing gorillas. It is something that we have in common with apes and chimpanzees alike.
Taking this route will give us a significant edge. Two-legged creatures may take advantage of gravity, which performs part of the work for us, but four-legged animals must exert themselves with every stride. You have to understand that gravity causes us to advance as we walk. We save around 25 percent of the energy required to move when walking compared to walking on all fours.
Other Animals Without Tails
Many other animals, including mammals, do not have tails. Some are listed below.
Africa and Southeast Asia are home to a variety of apes known as apes. At some point within the last four million years, apes lost their tails.
This change occurred before the emergence of modern humans. If apes had tails at one time, when did they lose them? Great apes and chimpanzees are non-human apes.
Jellyfish lack tails, a central nervous system, a skeletal framework, eyes, and a heart.
Jellyfish are carnivores that feast on planktonic creatures, crustaceans, tiny fish, and even fish eggs and larvae. First aid treats all types of jellyfish stings. Sea jellyfish are well-recognized for their umbrella-like shape.
Spiders are eight-legged, air-breathing arthropods that use their fangs to inject or exude venom. They can leap up to six times their length and have a near-perfect vision. Spider females may produce up to 3000 eggs at once. Obligate carnivores feast on a variety of insects.
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4. Sea Urchin
Around 950 different kinds of sea urchins may be found in the world’s waters. Sea urchins don’t have tails since they’re not obligated to have them. They go about on their feet and sometimes even with their teeth, and they’re very swift.
Their strong teeth allow them to crush everything they consume. The poison on sea urchins’ spines makes them a threat to humans as well.
Crabs, unlike their cousins, do not walk laterally but rather move about in circles by shuffling forward on the tips of their legs and dragging along the remainder of their bodies with one front leg at a time.
Though they share a common ancestor with crustaceans like shrimp and lobsters, these marine critters are much smaller at maturity.
The gorilla is the biggest non-tailed ape still in existence today. Their DNA is 98% identical to us humans. Hence, we share a common ancestor with these creatures.
Gorillas are endemic to Africa and may be seen in various environments, from wet to dry woods. There are two different types of gorillas: the mountain gorilla and the lowland gorilla.
The capybara is a tailless rodent. Capybaras are the most oversized rodents on the planet, which is what makes them stand out. They have excellent swimming skills but are less praised for their nimbleness on land.
They have perfected the art of communication by using a wide range of vocalizations and nonverbal cues. While they are generally peaceful creatures, they may become vicious if provoked.
8. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are often called cavies or domestic cavies. It is a rodent species native to South America and other parts of the world.
Instead of having a tail that sticks out as in rats and other rodents, guinea pigs have a tailbone that is fused below their pelvis.
Compared to other animals, guinea pigs are not adept at jumping, climbing, or living on level surfaces, and they are also known to utilize tunnels dug by other animals. Therefore, they do not have and do not require a tail.
The orangutan is a great ape native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra. It is classified in the genus Pongo and the family Hominidae.
Orangutans, like other apes, including gorillas, bonobos, and others, don’t have tails. But they have lengthy arms, and the flanges on their cheeks are a distinguishing characteristic that they employ to woo potential mates.
Millipedes are well-known arthropods due to their recognizable two-legged structure. The Latin term for “a thousand feet” is where we get our word “millipede.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a single millipede species with 1,000 legs. Millipedes may have more legs than centipedes, but they can’t outrun them. Despite their numerous legs, most millipedes are very sluggish.
Similar to centipedes, millipedes lack tails since they have no need for such a feature when walking.
These little herbivores, known as hyraxes or daisies, have thick coats of fur. They range in length from 30 to 70 cm and in weight from 2 to 5 kg. A hyrax’s natural habitats include both Africa and southern Asia.
Hyraxes don’t have tails since they don’t require them. Elephants and hyraxes have a common ancestor. Mammals belonging to the Tethytheria order, of which elephants and hyraxes are examples, have a common ancestor.
12. American Black Bear
A medium-sized bear found in North America is the American black bear. They have what seems like a tail, but it’s really only a little flap of skin. A black bear’s tail is only partially developed.
Bears may have lost their tails because they were seen to be unnecessary many years ago, although this is just speculation. Black bears are opportunistic feeders whose diet changes with the seasons and their geographic range.
13. Manx Cat
In contrast to other cat breeds, Manx cats don’t have tails. In addition to being one of the most well-liked domestic cat breeds, the Manx is also one of the oldest purebred varieties around.
These felines stand out from the crowd because of their unusual round heads, tiny legs, and taillessness. It is well known that Manx cats have a kind disposition and a genuine fondness for human company.
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14. Fruit Bat
The fruit bat, sometimes known as the flying fox, fits this description. There are more than 1,200 species of bats in the world, the majority of which are fruit bats. They eat mostly fruit, flowers, and leaves and thrive in tropical and subtropical climates. They are nocturnal, or night-active, creatures.
The absence of a tail is one of the most defining characteristics of fruit bats. This is seen as a specialized adaptation that aids the fruit bats’ control and agility in the air while they consume their food.
Do All Animals Have Tails? Why Not?
An animal’s tail is a crucial appendage. Usually, animals can’t walk, talk, or maintain their equilibrium without tails. However, not all animals have tails. Most invertebrate creatures (those without a backbone) are tailless. This group includes toads, frogs, and most other types of insects. Although, at some point in their evolution, every mammal species develops a tail.
During the fifth to eighth week of development, human embryos have tails. Rarely will a human baby be born with an underdeveloped or nonexistent tail, necessitating surgical intervention.
The tails of vertebrates, or creatures with backbones, are often quite noticeable and have a special evolutionary function. Like most wild mammals, the tails of domestic mammal pets like dogs and cats are easily recognizable. Tails are present, but less prominently so in certain species like guinea pigs.
There are several animals where the presence or absence of a tail is more ambiguous. Insects like crickets and many others have hairs on their backs where their tails would be.
There is a function for every part of an animal’s anatomy. Tails serve a crucial purpose for animals that have them. Some animals, however, do not need tails to live and thrive.
As an animal lover since childhood, Paul has an excessive amount of kindness for animals and really feels about them. Feeding stray dogs and passing time with them is one of the things Paul loves to do in his free time.
Paul studied Veterinary Medicine at Murdoch University. He is a Speaker who talks about animal welfare at various events. You will find him sharing here his valuable knowledge as well as experience.
Currently, Paul is working on his first book to publish where you will see the reflection of his 10 years of experience with animals and pet psychology.