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Humans With Tails

Updated on March 04, 2017

Did you know that humans can be born with tails? In fact, as fetuses we all briefly have tails in the womb--but for most of us they are reabsorbed well before birth. There are two different processes that can lead to a baby having a tail when he or she is born.

  1. It may be a "true" tail is retain from earlier development when our ancestors had tails. The human fetus has a tail early in development just after the 30th day post-conception, that it typically, but not always, lost before birth. This is also called the vestigial tail.
  2. A "pseudo-tail" It may be caused by a deformity of the spine such as a prolonged vertebra. It may be a growth such as a tumor. These defects sometimes appear higher up the spine such as on the back of the neck.

A List of Recorded Cases

I am collected a list of recorded cases of humans with tales, in reverse chronological order. If you know of any other please let me know.

  • Unnamed Girl (Vietnam) [2012]: a girl had a tail 2cm in length at age two.

  • Unnamed Girl (India) [2010]: A tail was successful removed from a three-month old female infant.

  • Unnamed Boy (China) [2010]:In another split spine case, this tail was successfully removed.

  • Hong Hong Hou (China) [2010]:A little girl in the town of Lixing was born with a tail perhaps attributable to a tumor. As seen on: Anhui Market Daily (2010).
  • Adult Male [2009]:38-year old male. As seen on: Doctors Hangout (2009)

  • Polovski, Oleg (Russia) [2007]:Oleg Polovski's tail may be on the small side, but he claims to be able to move it at will. As seen on:Boing Boing (2007)

  • Unnamed Child (India) [2002]:At almost 8 inches this child's tail was the longest reliably recorded in the medical literature.

  • Balaji (India) [2002]:The infant named Balaji (shown right) had a four inch tail-like appendage. The boy was exhibited at Hindu Shrines and became world news after a 2002 story in the Tribune and appearing on Ripleys Believe it or Not (2002).

  • Unnamed Boy (India) [1999]:A medical report diagnosed this child as having a true tail, not a malformation. The small tail was retained by the parents against medical advice to have it removed. As seen in:Indian Pediatrics (1999).

  • Unnamed Girl (Nigeria) [1963]: this case the 'tail' was attached to the child at each end.

  • Unnamed girl (United States) [1959]: A healthy girl with a small, soft and unmoving tail that was surgically removed.

13 inches?
13 inches?
  • Oram, Chandre (India) [undated]: Chandre Oram works on a tea plantation. His tail is believed very lucky, except when it comes to finding a bride. His tail is a result of spina bifida, essential a split spine, and is reportedly 13 inches long (although I think he may be exaggerating there). Oram and others feeling his appearance is related to Hanuman, a god with a monkey-like appearance.

Anomalous Cases

  • In 1977 a 10 year old boy complaining of pain while sitting was found to have a spine that terminated in an internal tail of 5 vertebrae, but that did not extend in the form of a visible tail.

Discussion

Human tails are mainly discussed and publicized as curiosities, or interesting medical cases. In some cultures they are thought to have a spiritual significance. In the case of tumors they need to be removed for the health of the child. Anomalies like these used to always be removed just because they aren't "normal", but when they cause no harm these features are just a wonderful example of human diversity and more parents are now choosing to leave their children as they were born.

References

Belzberg, Allan Joel, Stanley Terence Myles, and Cynthia Lucy Trevenen. "The human tail and spinal dysraphism." Journal of pediatric surgery 26.10 (1991): 1243-1245.

Dao, Anh H., and Martin G. Netsky. "Human tails and pseudotails." Human pathology 15.5 (1984): 449-453.

Dubrow, Terry J., Phillip Ashley Wackym, and Malcolm A. Lesavoy. "Detailing the human tail." Annals of plastic surgery 20.4 (1988): 340-344.

Fallon, John F., and B. Kay Simandl. "Evidence of a role for cell death in the disappearance of the embryonic human tail." Developmental Dynamics 152.1 (1978): 111-129.

Lu, F. L., Wang, P. J., Teng, R. J., & Yau, K. I. T. (1998). The human tail. Pediatric neurology, 19(3), 230-233.

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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I always thought that a tail on a human being is an extension of the spine that we lost throughout evolution, and that some people still have an active gene for the tail. But I find it strange in your examples that they don't extend in the center from the spine.

    • profile image

      Raz 4 years ago

      I am one of those people born with a tail, but it is really tiny... Can it even be called a tail?

      One would need to look extremely close to see it.

      Unfortunately, it can't be removed as it does have to many nerve endings.

      This is how I was born, and I am not ashamed of it.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Interesting story. I have not heard of human being with tails. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Paige 4 years ago

      All People once had tails but as time changes and people live in different environments they don't need curtain parts of the body just like the appendix once served a part in human servival that's why we have a tail bone but no tail

    • stylezink profile image

      stylezink 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

      Interesting hub. I did not know people with tails existed. Wow, the photos!

    • vellos profile image

      vellos 5 years ago

      Interesting that they are not necessarily centered like I'd expect them to be.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 5 years ago

      I have heard of humans with tail only in a novel of Gabriel Garcia Marquez!

      I did not know that this really exists.

      Thanks for sharing.

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