From mermaids to ancient Babylonian scorpion people, there are legends or stories about "humans with tails" around the world, and these stories of "humans with tails" usually have some kind of superpower or superior intelligence.
So, what would it be like if ordinary, ordinary humans really had tails? How would the extra "attachment" affect our daily lives?
For some, this is more than a thought experiment. In rare cases, infants born with spina bifida, or an irregular tailbone, may have a residual "pseudotail. According to the study published in the journal Human Pathology, these fleshy abnormalities usually include muscle, connective tissue and blood vessels, but not bone or cartilage, and they have little function and are usually removed shortly after birth.
In terms of human evolution, our distant primate ancestors had some sort of tail, and when the great apes diverged from the monkeys about 25 million years ago, the tail has since disappeared. When our ancestors evolved better bipedal balance, our ancestors discarded the extra "appendage" - the tail - in order to save energy and calories. Of course, tailed primates still exist today.
Some monkeys native to South and Central America (called "New World" monkeys by European colonists and later adopted by scientists) have taut tails that can grip objects, curl up on tree branches, and even support their weight. But our closest tailed relatives are the "Old World" monkeys that live in Asia, Africa, and southern Europe, such as baboons and macaques, which use their tails primarily to keep their balance. They don't have a taut tail because it's a step back in the family tree, says Peter Kappeler, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany.
So our tails may not easily grab other objects, however, Capelle says: This does not necessarily mean they will be useless. A long, furry tail like a macaque's could be used to wrap around us for warmth, the equivalent of a built-in scarf. If we evolve to hibernate in the winter, our tails could come in handy as a fat storage system, as some non-primate mammals do, such as beavers.
Jonathan Mark, an anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said: In addition to human primate relatives, we can also mimic other bipedal animals with tails, for example: kangaroos have very strong, tripod-like tails, which help support their weight and increase their jumping stride.
Extinct theropod suborder dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, had stiff, muscular tails that served a rudder-like function while running.
Mark added: However, having a tail like one of these creatures changes our stride; for example, a Tyrannosaurus-style tail forces us to lean our hips forward so that our chest is parallel to the ground, rather than upright. A kangaroo tail is hard to maneuver without jumping, otherwise it would stay dragging on the ground very annoyingly. It's a completely different type of movement.
"And, in everyday life, humans will inevitably hurt their tails", pooper scoopers should understand that cats with tails that are too long are very easy to step on, or very easy to get caught in doors. "At the same time, short tails may make it very difficult for us to sit in chairs, and if humans do have tails, we will have to redesign car seats, swimsuits and, more importantly, pants with a hole in them."
Considering the human urge to adorn oneself, tails can (and probably will) open up many new fashion possibilities. The oldest jewelry dates back 100,000 years, says Michele Langley, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia. It's easy to imagine that our ancestors would have had quite a few other accessories in addition to necklaces and earrings, and if humans had tails, then there would have been such stunning accessories as tail rings, tail warmers, and even tail hair nets.