Did One Random Mutation Take Away Our Tails?

I could be holding a beer with that thing
Did One Random Mutation Take Away Our Tails?

I think anyone with even an iota of imagination has, at some point, imagined having a tail. Theres so much cool stuff you could do with an extra arm to coil around things. We could be playing ping-pong from the side, carrying extra drinks and snacks at sports stadiums, the possibilities are endless. Of course, there would be downsides. Couches would be more complicated. People would slam them in car doors probably twice a week. Corporate overlords would have long figured out a way to include the tail to make everyones workday more stressful, like some sort of tail-based “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean” that involves sorting papers.

Well, scientists now think they may have pinpointed the gene mutation that lopped off our backside appendages. According to a new study, researchers compared genomes between tailless humans and apes and tail-equipped monkeys to find the microscopic forked path that decides between one and the other. They double-checked by flipping the tail switch in mice with CRISPR, and bing-bang-boom, tailless mice. 

As for the specific reason we shed that weigh? Its still unclear.


Be careful! Pull that thing off, and hell start inventing shame!

The most interesting note comes from evolutionary geneticist Miriam Konkel who suggests that the entire tail/no-tail evolutionary divorce might have been a random mutation. Obviously, it would have had to shown some benefits, or else that first tailless sucker would have ended up dead in a ditch after missing a tricky tree jump, but a strange gene change (monkey bloodlines hate this one weird trick!) might have been a significant bit of evolution on our planet. A freaky little smooth-butted monkey got born, and all of a sudden, species started dropping out of the trees and learning to love the ground. Hell, maybe even our need to develop tools came from the fact that we couldnt climb away from stuff as easily.

However it happened, its a done deal. Until we get some sort of biomechanical tail that fuses to our lower spine and lets us fight Spider-Man, were topping out at four useful appendages. 

Sure, the primates that ended up keeping tails have superior balance and can hang from stuff, but we got delicious soda. So who really wins?

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