[Taxacom] loss of tail in monkeys

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Sat Jan 16 21:12:38 CST 2010

Dear All,
       Monkeys seem to find their tails very useful, for balance,
locomotion in trees, etc., and thus is a plesiomorphy not commonly lost.
Therefore, they have rarely significantly reduced or eliminated their
tails in evolution.  The main occurences are in the "ape" clade, and the
other is in certain macaques (reduced in pigtail macaques and lost in
Barbary "apes").
        The question is whether such reductions or elimination in their
tails has a single major cause.  Evolutionary reasons for this is the
"uselessness" of tails in larger animals (especially in environments
with more grassland and fewer trees),  or perhaps some other
disadvantage of tails (somehow "in the way" or an energy drain in colder
climates or perhaps a tail even makes them easier to catch by a predator
out in open habitats such as grasslands).
      So my question is what is the best explanation for why the "ape
clade" lost their tails, and does the same explanation apply to tail
reduction or loss in some macaques?
        ----------Ken Kinman

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