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Thread: what happened to our tails?

  1. #1 what happened to our tails? 
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    i was watching this show dragonball today, maybe some of you know it, but there is a race of aliens called saiyans and they all got tails and it got me thinking "what the hell happened to our tails?"

    it would be pretty cool to have a tail don't ya think? well i do

    in any case i was wondering if anyone could explain why it got taken off. evolution i guess is the obvious reason but why would it become useless? i once heard that we walk upright, have no hair or fur on our bodies, and have developed brains because; it gives us the ability to fashion incredibly effective weapons out elemental crap like sticks and rocks, and the upright walking is so we can chase after our prey for days on end until they run out of energy, and we dont have hair so we dont waste the energy through sweat and can shed our artificial fur if necessary for even less energy waste.

    its a nice little theory but wouldn't the tail help out with balance?

    thanks in advance


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    God gave us our tails that we may gracefully jump from branch to branch, however when he saw what else we had learnt to use it for he was not greatly amused and lopped it off, forcing us to find an alternative...


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  4. #3  
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    shutup
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  5. #4 Re: what happened to our tails? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by austing6
    i was watching this show dragonball today, maybe some of you know it, but there is a race of aliens called saiyans and they all got tails and it got me thinking "what the hell happened to our tails?"

    it would be pretty cool to have a tail don't ya think? well i do

    in any case i was wondering if anyone could explain why it got taken off. evolution i guess is the obvious reason but why would it become useless? i once heard that we walk upright, have no hair or fur on our bodies, and have developed brains because; it gives us the ability to fashion incredibly effective weapons out elemental crap like sticks and rocks, and the upright walking is so we can chase after our prey for days on end until they run out of energy, and we dont have hair so we dont waste the energy through sweat and can shed our artificial fur if necessary for even less energy waste.

    its a nice little theory but wouldn't the tail help out with balance?

    thanks in advance
    Broadly speaking, because walking upright does not require a tail. It would actually create an imbalance, requiring us to hunch rather than walk fully upright. Since there were advantages to our fully upright bipedalism, we lost the tail. The other ape species don't have tails either though, so I guess the loss of the tail occurred further back in our lineage than fully upright posture.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by austing6
    shutup
    He's just having a bit of a joke, calm down.
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  7. #6 Re: what happened to our tails? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by austing6
    i was watching this show dragonball today, maybe some of you know it, but there is a race of aliens called saiyans and they all got tails and it got me thinking "what the hell happened to our tails?"

    it would be pretty cool to have a tail don't ya think? well i do

    in any case i was wondering if anyone could explain why it got taken off. evolution i guess is the obvious reason but why would it become useless? i once heard that we walk upright, have no hair or fur on our bodies, and have developed brains because; it gives us the ability to fashion incredibly effective weapons out elemental crap like sticks and rocks, and the upright walking is so we can chase after our prey for days on end until they run out of energy, and we dont have hair so we dont waste the energy through sweat and can shed our artificial fur if necessary for even less energy waste.

    its a nice little theory but wouldn't the tail help out with balance?

    thanks in advance
    kamekameha!

    You'll have super saiyan powers if you have a tail. :P
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  8. #7  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Actually, the ape clade lost their tails a long time ago, even when they still looked mostly like monkeys. We're not really sure why they lost their tails.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  9. #8  
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    I still have the remnants of a tail like a docked doggy

    If you don't believe me I will post a picture up and show you
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    It's possible that it's a casualty of some other, more fundamental change. Like maybe having a larger brain uses a protein which disrupts the development of a tail during fetal development. Or something less sexy than that. Maybe the development of some mechanical differences in thumbs, or something likewise mundane.
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    Ghost limbs

    I can feel thumbs on my feet
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Actually, the ape clade lost their tails a long time ago, even when they still looked mostly like monkeys. We're not really sure why they lost their tails.
    Doesn't it have something to do with ground locomotion, or did they lose it while they were still in the trees? I would think that it makes it easier to sit on the ground with no tail in the way for instance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Actually, the ape clade lost their tails a long time ago, even when they still looked mostly like monkeys. We're not really sure why they lost their tails.
    Doesn't it have something to do with ground locomotion, or did they lose it while they were still in the trees? I would think that it makes it easier to sit on the ground with no tail in the way for instance.
    I don't think so. Baboons spend large amounts of time on the ground, and they still have tails. Orangutans rarely go on the ground and they don't have a tail. Besides, you still sit when you're in a tree, on branches.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    When it comes to tails, I am sure I was told these were developed for balance, yet this seems a little at odds when considering animals such as horses or dogs, I reckon tails were probably a chracteristic of all early mammals, different species adpting them for differing purposes, maybe when humans, gorrillas, chimps and urangs developed fingers, the tail became obsolete and like our tiny toes just shrank. But then biology has never been a strong subject or held any interest with me so that could all be bollocks.
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  15. #14 Re: what happened to our tails? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing

    kamekameha!

    You'll have super saiyan powers if you have a tail. :P
    God, I used to read the comic when I was 12, I can't believe a 20 year old Japanese cartoon is still this popular.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    When it comes to tails, I am sure I was told these were developed for balance, yet this seems a little at odds when considering animals such as horses or dogs, I reckon tails were probably a chracteristic of all early mammals, different species adpting them for differing purposes, maybe when humans, gorrillas, chimps and urangs developed fingers, the tail became obsolete and like our tiny toes just shrank. But then biology has never been a strong subject or held any interest with me so that could all be bollocks.
    For arboreal animals, long tails really do help with balance. And primates had grasping fingers and thumbs long before any lost their tails. The great apes have big toes still, because they are arboreal. Only humans have toes so small, because of bipedal walking.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Thanks Paralith, what then would be the purpose of a mouse/rat's tail? it would seem to me that such a long tail could be an impediment in that it could offer a larger target for any predator thus Dawin might suggest that long tailed rodents would reduce, clearly not the case..
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Thanks Paralith, what then would be the purpose of a mouse/rat's tail? it would seem to me that such a long tail could be an impediment in that it could offer a larger target for any predator thus Dawin might suggest that long tailed rodents would reduce, clearly not the case..
    No idea. But their tails do not seem to significantly impede their ability to survive, as evidenced by the presence of rats and mice all over the world. If a trait is not sufficiently detrimental it can hang around for quite a while. Also, rats and mice are not exactly arboreal but they do climb up and around a lot of things in their search for food, so perhaps tails do help a bit in that sense.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    I just did a quick google and it seems with rats their tail is a thermoregulatory device (hence the tail has no hair) I can't vouch for the site but it does seem to make sense, here's the link, also for balance (amusing though that they quote anchor chains and ropes ie recent activity).


    http://www.ratbehavior.org/RatTails.htm
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER

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    Your voice is so deep and penetrating, it grabs me by the tail!
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  21. #20  
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    what happened to our tails?
    We never had them (unless you count the remnant structure). So nothing happened to them.

    It's because our immediate ancestor didn't have them either.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    what happened to our tails?
    We never had them (unless you count the remnant structure). So nothing happened to them.

    It's because our immediate ancestor didn't have them either.
    Now that's just silly. You don't have to trace our ancestry back all that far to find animals with tails.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numsgil
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    what happened to our tails?
    We never had them (unless you count the remnant structure). So nothing happened to them.

    It's because our immediate ancestor didn't have them either.
    Now that's just silly. You don't have to trace our ancestry back all that far to find animals with tails.
    Spurious' statement is completely correct. Our immediate ancestor, an early Homo species, most certainly didn't have a tail. Even our last common ancestor with chimps was an ape without a tail. The first tail-less apes existed around 20 million years ago. I suppose it depends on how inclusive you are when using the word "we," but hominids certainly never had tails.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Perhaps it was one of those evolutionary toss's of the coin, you know, "What do you want to lose, Heads or Tails".
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  25. #24  
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    you could even turn things around and ask the question : why do most mammals have tails ? presumably because of some survival value, but apart from a 5th hand in monkeys and other tree-living mammals, a fly swat in certain ungulates and propulsion in (semi-)aquatic mammals i can't really think of any

    so if natural selection does not penalise you for not having a tail, any mutation that makes you tailless could spread in the population + it's one less structure that the body needs to build
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    maybe it was just something else for a bigger monkey to grab hold of allowing him to eat you, eventually shorter tails prevailed, well who knows?

    The whole thing is pointless (no pun intended) the fact is we do not have them why does everything havre to have a reason? if there has to be a reason that we no longer have tails then why not a reason for the big bang or any other fact of nature, if there has to be a reason then it suggests intelligent creation. we don't have tails, either it was a mutation, natural selection as I alluded to earlier or like our toes not being used, it just dissappeared with time.

    Iguess we want to find a half tailed ape or something, we go on wasting our time with such trivia when there are far more useful things to research, ok debate it here, that costs nothing - what a bloody boring world if we had the answers to every question no more forums, no more pondering or think what if.. Just google and bam an answer - no let's just keep some things as a mystery.
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    no let's just keep some things as a mystery.
    no mystery here : at some point early apes were asked the question "heads or tails ?"
    the answer was "tails" but you know how life is : you never get what you ask for ...
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  28. #27  
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    Everything is there or not there for a reason.

    It's just that it is sometimes impossible to find out the reason, or there has been a sequential series of different reasons.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  29. #28  
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    reason can mean different things in this context. It can mean "intention" or "cause". I think he is referring to cause, you are interpreting it as intention. It is a word game, and not what is meant by asking why.

    Animals also use their tails to communicate. Not necessarily consciously, but you can determine a dogs attitude by how he carries his tail. Maybe we developed better forms of communication, and this had something to do with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    no mystery here : at some point early apes were asked the question "heads or tails ?"
    the answer was "tails" but you know how life is : you never get what you ask for ...
    FOUL!

    Plagiarism!!

    Pistols at dawn you cad!

    I demand he/she be banned for life!
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  31. #30  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Pistols at dawn you cad!
    whose dawn ? i propose a mid-atlantic one
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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