A recent entry in the Curious Kids series of the Philadelphia Inquirer answered the age-old question:
The series answers readers’ questions on scientific topics with research-supported answers.
“Modern animals use their tails for everything from balance to communication and finding mates,” noted the published response.
To make their point, Curious Kids cited a 2015 article published by Jesse Young, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, and colleagues in the Journal of Experimental Zoology.
That article, titled “Tail function during arboreal quadrupedalism in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis) and tamarins (Saguinus oedipus),” noted that squirrel monkeys, which have long digits, were less likely to use their tails for balance compared to tamarins, which have much shorter digits. According to the authors, this finding has “the potential to inform our functional understanding of tail loss during primate evolution.”