Prehensile tail

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Definition

noun, plural: prehensile tails

A tail characterized by its adaptive features, enabling the vertebrate animal to grasp or hold objects with its tail


Supplement

A prehensile tail pertains to the tail of certain animals that enable the latter to grasp or hold objects. There are several animal groups with a prehensile tail. One of them is the New World monkeys. The prehensile tail is a characteristic feature of New World monkeys and it sets them apart from the Old World monkeys. This feature is essential since these animals live in dense forests and they make use of their prehensile tail as if it is an extra arm or leg as they swing from a branch to another.

A fully prehensile tail is one in which the animal can fully hold on to and manipulate an object with its tail. Examples of animals with fully prehensile tail are opossum, anteaters, harvest mice, tree pangolins, and seahorses. In contrast, a partially prehensile tail is one wherein the tail is used for anchoring the animal's body as the animal climbs atop the tree. Some of the vertebrates with prehensile tail include northern tamandua, tree porcupine (Coendou spp.), possums, salamanders (e.g. Aneides spp., Eurycea sp., etc.), pipefish, and few other seahorses.


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