Bitch on the Blog

May 25, 2010


Filed under: Despair,Human condition — bitchontheblog @ 11:57

Cheerful Monk (aka Jean) asked the useless question of why some animals have tails and others don’t.

It’s been occuping me since she qualified her question as “philosophical” rather than anatomical. Answer: I haven’t got the faintest idea. All I know is that cows and horses need them for practical reasons (to keep the flies away), cats need them as a rudder to fall off a window sill from the sixth floor – unscathed; and obviously dogs need wagging tails to keep their owners happy. Sorry, Jean.  That was anatomical. Even more pressing: Why did that bit at the end of the human spine shrivel, forgotten what it’s called – something starting with c (?). Maybe it helped humans walk on two feet rather than on  four.

All I can say is that I am glad I don’t have a tail – otherwise I would have to walk with it between my legs.




  1. I broke my tail bone iceskating. You would unless you have a fat ass. I had to wear a pillow in my pants for a few weeks after that. (only when iceskating)

    If humans had tails, people could know our moods. Between the legs when feeling down, wagging when happy, & straight up when feeling proud & full of ourselves.

    Comment by bikehikebabe — May 25, 2010 @ 13:31 | Reply

    • Bike Hike Babe, please do never ask me “Does my bum look big in this” when you stuff a pillow down your pants.

      It’s interesting what you say about a dog and its tail between their legs: Whilst no doubt a sign of not exactly being happy I always thought it was because they had been told off by their owner about some misdemeanour. And as I am continually being told off … you know the rest.


      Comment by Ursula — May 25, 2010 @ 17:57 | Reply

  2. Priceless piece of useless thinking! I love it. Of course it is not really useless as it made me a) smile and b)think.

    I know the uses that animals put their tails to in many cases….BTW cats use their tail for signalling: Was it a cat that said that the difference between a dog and cat was that a dog growls when it’s angry and wags its tail when it is happy whereas a cat growls when its happy and wags its tail when it is angry? That popped up from long term(childhood) memory.

    There must be some evolutionary reason for tails in (some) amphibians and reptiles and in mammals.

    Fish! That’s the answer!

    Comment by magpie11 — May 25, 2010 @ 14:05 | Reply

    • Quite right, Magpie: Priceless. In fact I blame Jean for not making much progress with any other current questions in my life. It is funny how the most innocent can occupy one so much. Still waiting for her own take on the subject.

      As you say tails (and ears) are a medium for animals to communicate. Also they are weapons: Think crocodile. Who wants to be whacked round the head by one of them? Snakes and eels are, to me, just one long tail. I once woke up in my Grandfather’s house with a live eel next to me in my bed. Dont’ ask. This has nothing to do with Freud. All to do with him angling in his free time. Or maybe the eel thought I was a mermaid and fell in love with me. I once had to skin (dead) smoked eels for a friend’s wedding feast. I did it because what are friends for if not to dump the rubbish in your life onto them.


      Comment by Ursula — May 25, 2010 @ 18:12 | Reply

      • I think your brother put that eel in your bed. You do have a brother? You must if you had an eel in your bed.

        Comment by bikehikebabe — May 25, 2010 @ 19:04 | Reply

        • Yes, I do have a brother. Alexander – to be precise; gorgeous guy – sex on legs; one of the most charming men you can imagine. I have to bust your theory, BHB, since he wasn’t present at the time the eel planted itself between myself and our tiny sister Cornelia; neither would Alexander touch a fish if it bit him in his finger. Being caught somewhere between three very different sisters he tended to our individual sensitivities which is no doubt why he turned out to be an ace husband. My mother was shocked, as only she can be, when I predicted that Alexander (he was only 10 at the time – I am nine years older) would either turn into aforementioned “ace husband” or gay. I hasten to add that, at the time, I did NOT know that one does not have a choice in the matter of who we are attracted to.

          Explanation is more prosaic. My grandfather and my uncles kept live fresh fish anywhere till dinner time the same or latest next day. In this case some water tank in the guest bed room. I wouldn’t have minded any other fish (I used to go angling with my grandfather first thing in the morning as young as four or five years of age) but eels!!!!!!!!!!1 Dear god in heaven they freak me out to this day.


          Comment by Ursula — May 25, 2010 @ 19:25 | Reply

  3. I’ve been thinking of the evolutionary advantage of a tail. Then I read:

    Gerbils have a fur-covered tail, but they can’t be held by their tail or else it could deglove or come off because it’s a defense mechanism in the wild.

    Having a tail which conveniently comes off when a predator grabs you by it sounds like a great survival mechanism. 🙂

    Comment by Cheerful Monk — May 26, 2010 @ 20:40 | Reply

    • I was a baby when I lived in Sumatra. My father said that lizards ran up the drapes. When you grabbed the long tail, it came off.

      Comment by bikehikebabe — May 26, 2010 @ 21:48 | Reply

      • I knew that about lizards but I didn’t know that mammals did that too.

        Comment by Cheerful Monk — May 26, 2010 @ 22:20 | Reply

        • Bike Hike Babe, small minds with no tail clearly think alike. Just as I was sending my reply to Jean your lizard came in. Am not too sure about mammals snapping their tails off; seems unlikely but trust Jean that she knows what she is talking about.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — May 26, 2010 @ 22:26 | Reply

    • Good job I learnt to touch type since I can’t see keyboard as all lightbulbs in my study have blown and replacements are – at this time of night – not to be found.

      Yes, Jean, I wish humans could just shed their tail and escape. It’s why I am in awe of lizards and would never touch one because – think about it – once their original tail has been broken off they have little second chance of escape.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — May 26, 2010 @ 22:23 | Reply

      • Ah, but as I understand it they grow the tail back. They just have to be extra careful until it comes back in.

        Comment by Cheerful Monk — May 26, 2010 @ 22:32 | Reply

        • You are right though have sneaking suspicion that tail number two won’t be as perfect. And what if that one breaks off? These were questions which plagued me when a child and, to this day, when in Spain where lizards are everywhere (particularly on outside walls at night).

          And then there are earth worms. I admire them. They are such industrious creatures. Munching their way through leftovers making compost, serving as bird food, attracting fish when attached to a fisherman’s hook and miraculously surviving when, by accident, you hack them into two halves (say, when digging over the garden). I might not remember this correctly but don’t they also – oh so efficiently – fertilize themselves to reproduce?

          Which reminds me of my last biology teacher. He was blond and young, textbook Arian. I was even blonder and, by virtue of being his pupil, younger. He was outraged when I pointed out to him that, as the years went by, biology as taught at school turned from fun to something more akin to chemistry lessons. All that photosynthesis and other stuff I’ve now forgotten. I lost all interest (age 17,18) in his ramblings. Naturally he took his revenge (Magpie, take note) as only teachers can. So much water off my duck’s back. I told him he could stuff it and that I’d rather go for a country walk with my grandfather or sit in a field to learn about nature and wild life. Yes, Jean, I know that’s hardly the scientific approach to take but so much more fun.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — May 27, 2010 @ 03:45 | Reply

          • About earthworms. When we have a heavy rain, the earthworms come out rather than drown. Then they dry out hard & stiff on the sidewalk.

            Before that happens I put them back on the grass. Takes time, but I’m saving lives. Some of them are huge too.

            Comment by bikehikebabe — May 27, 2010 @ 16:59 | Reply

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