Growing a human tail?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Athelwulf, May 3, 2006.


Would you grow a tail if you could have one?

  1. Yes, tails are awesome.

    35 vote(s)
  2. No, I'm quite happy being tail-less.

    32 vote(s)
  1. BigHand Registered Member

    First, congratulations for having such a concrete wish.

    Here are some ideas that might help you if you find the resources to put them into action.

    From the many lines of research that may exist for growing a tail, I can think of the following two.

    1. Changing your genetic code
    2. Transplanting a nice tail

    Now the explanation, starting from the short one. All the information is based on scientific papers or news, and some websites that look well established. I will not discuss here any ethical issue. I will not always use scientific terminology but also informal expressions.

    1. Changing your genetic code

    Ih the genetic code of humans there is the same information a mouse has to grow a tail, with the difference that in humans this code is not activated.
    I think you have already got the picture: Change the genetic code in order to activate it, to define the characteristics of the tail (you wouldn't want a mouse tail), and to make the tail grow fast to match your age and size.

    2. Transplanting a tail

    Background and main issues to consider

    Currently, it is possible to do transplants between species (xenotransplantation: interspecies transplantation), including humans. Examples of transplants to humans include skin, bone marrow, neurons, kidneys, and so on, mostly from monkeys and pigs.

    Two big problems with these transplants so far are organ rejection and the viruses from the donor.

    The problem of organ (or even blood) rejection could be approached by changing part of the genetic code or the organ characteristics of the donor to make it closer to that of the human. Some examples are monkeys with human blood and mice with nervous system totally human.

    The problem of viruses from the donor is more complicated. It is well known by researchers that pigs have a virus that is passed to the human body when some organ, skin or neurons are transplanted. This virus (PERV) so far has not caused any damage to human, but there is no guarantee that it will be safe for any human genetic code. I do not want to frighten you, but I need you to know the magnitude of the issue: the worst scenario is that this virus might combine with human genetic information and evolve into a new form of HIV that could cause an outbreak.

    Moreover, not all animal viruses are known, so there is always a risk of finding something when it is too late.

    It is easy to understand why this kind of research does not progress as fast as it could, but let's continue.

    Other issues to solve

    Besides the above two problems, you will need to consider the bones, muscles and nerves to control the tail.

    Only human fetuses and very few documented cases (around 30 so far) of human babies show a tail. The "instructions" for the fetus to lose the tail before birth are determined in the womb. I do not find easy to "reverse" these instructions in an adult like you, so you do not have a tail and also do not know how to move one because you are not supposed to have it. On the other hand, as far as I have read, the tail in babies does not have bones, and in some cases it does not have muscles.

    Most big mammals, from cats to horses, have bones in their long tails, that give them stability and allows the tails to do some useful functions. So you might want to have bones, muscles and nerves in the tail.

    Potential solutions

    Some researchers consider that the tailbone in humans is the remain of the tail lost in evolution. If damaged, the tailbone can be removed with minor or no effect for the patient. Therefore it might be possible to remove the tail bone and connect the transplanted tail to the other vertebrae and to the nervous system in this place.

    In some experiments with birds, researches have found that transplanting neurons from a species to a different one, the second one can "learn" abilities from the donor. So you may opt to have some neurons from the tail donor transplanted in your brain in order to learn how to control the tail you will also receive.

    Proposal of experiments


    Get at least two species of animals, one being that of the donor you choose.
    It will also help to have at least two breeds of the donor species.

    For the sake of the explanation, let suppose you chose the donor to be a dog.

    You will need two breeds of dogs, and another species, which can be rabbits, monkeys, pigs or a combination. I will explain the reasons below.

    Data collection

    Do X-ray CT or MRI scans to the animals to understand the anatomy of the bones and nerves.
    Do fMRI, PET or SPECT scans to determine where are the neurons that "control" the tail movement in every species.

    Experiment options
    a) Transplant the tails between dog breeds, to confirm that all necessary data to do at least this have been collected.
    b) Transplant the tail of the donor breed dogs and some neurons to
    - rabbits. You can verify if the rabbits can learn to move a totally different tail
    - pigs. Same reason than above, and better understanding of pig's characteristics.
    - monkeys (without tail). Same reasons than above. Their brain is closer to human's than that of the other species.

    Bioengineering work
    "Inject" the genetic code of the donor dog breed into that of the other species to avoid rejection.
    "Inject" the neurons that control the tail from the donor dog breed into the brains of the other species to "transfer the knowledge."

    Xenotransplantation to human
    If all the transplantations suggested above are successful (no rejection or illness in at least 6 months, and good control of the tail), congratulations!
    Your turn to make your wish true will come.

    Good luck.
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  3. livingegg Registered Member

    I suspect it to be possible...

    I suspect it to be possible to grow a tail as an adult, although it would likely end up being a stubby, pathetic thing. How extreme are you willing to be to commit to doing this? It would probably take many months or even years of sustained effort and focus, but other than that it would be pretty simple. Through manipulating your environment and your perceptions, you could essentially trick yourself into really believing you already had a tail, and your body would try to be consistent with this by activating whatever DNA was necessary to actually grow the tail, which it would do rapidly. It is also possible that you may need certain hormone or chemical supplements to help your body do this - but the instigating force would come from your own mind. You would need to be extremely disciplined and well focused, which would probably require you to remove yourself from the chaotic day-to-day life of modern society --- not something most people are willing to do.

    If you want more theoretical information about how this is possible I suggest you look into the work of Bruce Lipton (brucelipton-dot-com), or check out his book titled The Biology of Belief. He studies a field called Epigenetics that deals with issues like this, and, there is evidence that such a thing is indeed possible - but creating the right conditions for it to occur is very difficult. I have considered trying to grow a tail myself, but I am not willing to dedicate so much energy and time towards this end, so instead I expirement with increasing my physical pain threshold, and healing/regeneration.
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  5. Astrid Johanna Ulv Registered Member

    Is this just a scientific and atheist forum? I am Astrid Johanna Ulv, the soon-to-be leader of the Huldrefolk movement. I have always wanted a tail so much that I have worn a lion tail since I was twelve. I'm 25 now and I had just come across this forum and have noticed that several of you also wished you had tails. I have defined anyone who feels incomplete without a tail a huldre, after a mythic Scandinavian fairy who looks like a human with a tail. Now I am NOT a skeptic but an occultist who believes in and practices magical arts, but I want to know if any of you who want tails also believe in mysticism and the occult. Please don't ban me for not being a skeptic, because I know that real magic cannot grow a tail, if you know what Witchcraft really IS, and I have heard of a whole family of huldrefolk who were born with physical tails that could not be removed, like having them, and practice magic. I would SO wish that science could come up with a way for us huldrefolk to grow tails so that we can feel complete. Does anyone who wants a tail feel the same way I do?
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  7. Bradley364 DIG HARD! Registered Senior Member

    Here I am, checking my mail, when I get a message declaring that someone has posted on a thread, on a forum, that I haven't visited in years. Interested, I clicked the link and read this.

    Sciforums is nostalgic

    This thread is not.


    Person, I am not a active user anymore, but if this forum is anything like I remember it as, it works best when there's a mix of people with differing views and motives. Basically, its awesome.

    That is all.
  8. matthewkun Registered Member

    Fox Tail on girlfriend

    I want a tail, but not as bad as I want my girlfriend to have a tail. Given infinite resources, here is how I would go about getting her the tail I desire.

    1. The tail need not be "organically" part of her, it should just be attached in an inconspicuous and "natural" manner. I am using quotation marks arbitrarily, let me be more clear. It would be attached and part of her, but need not be grown by her DNA, nor even attached flesh to flesh. A screw to the tail bone (if some needed removing that's okay too) would be sufficient.

    2. The tail would optimally be somewhat prehensile. Or, to the extent that a cat's tail is prehensile, at least, *expressive." This would be accomplished by establishing a neural network. I imagine this having similar properties to those who "use their minds" to control a mouse pointer on a screen. Add neurons, wireless relays, feedback loop, internal sensors, boom.

    3. The tail is for me, so just package a bone and flesh like case around the mechanics, feed it juice through some biothermal, "methane", fuel cells, whatever, shouldn't need that much, this is the least worrying technical angle.

    4. Attach desirable real fox tail (or whichever type you prefer for the day). Set the options to hanging, upright, full expressive, whatever.

    5. ENJOY! Because you now have a kick ass fashion tail with all the advantages and little to no messy biology.
  9. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Sound fine, though I would think it better to engineer altruist that lack hate and anger and have a limited sense of fear.
  10. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

    Its quite easy - kind of like making hair grow. You just shave the area where you would expect a tail. This acts kind of like a placebo. It helps if you shave some of the skin right off, the stem cells will get to work and this also increases the chances of your inner tail growing out.
  11. Mouse88 Registered Member

    My question is what's the use of a tail?
  12. Bradley364 DIG HARD! Registered Senior Member

    In humans? Probably nothing, unless you want to argue that the end of the spine can still be considered a vestigial tail and therefore helps in balance. I don't buy that too much, as our ability to balance is quite relative. Example, people can be top heavy, or have bulging stomachs but still be able to stand and walk with some amount of skill.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, is that if anything, a human tail's benefit would be purely on a mental and inner scale, as in someone "wanting" one.


    Maybe getting a mate...if that person has some weird fetish, but now I'm just pushing it.

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  13. Pinwheel Banned Banned

    For humans? I think for animals (like cats and monkeys) they use the tail for balance.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  14. ScaryMonster I’m the whispered word. Valued Senior Member

    I think a litter tray might be in order!

    A prehensile tail would be very useful. I’m not exactly sure why humans and apes lost their tails.

    Maybe because of balance reasons and now we are longer living an arboreal lifestyle?

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  15. Try Again No, I'm not a mod. Registered Senior Member

    Wouldn't the tail get in the way?
  16. tazmusica Registered Senior Member

    Being a biochemist, I am sure it is something that theoretically could be done. However, there are some caveats. Firstly, the genetic information would be needed (either present in the host, or put there through something like a retroviral gene therapy). Second, an understanding of the expression of the proteins encoded by the genes required is imperative (this includes proper timing and amounts). Third, graft rejection phenomenon or other adverse immunological responses could be a possible problem. Fourth, this would have to be tested in animal models, as ethically testing on humans would require high certainty that it would work in humans prior to testing in humans (as a previous poster noted). I know that there is research at Universities in the Boston area that are working on regenerative medicine (i.e. regrowth of limbs), and this is something that has the same underlying principles. I think that we are still quite a ways from being able to do this, though one has hopes that it will become a reality sooner.
  17. Pantherine Registered Member

    Well being one to think outside of the "BOX" and the many ideas swirling around in my head, i'd say we have all that we need now to perform sucsessful tail transplant. Though those in the medical feild may look at you like you've grown a second head, those that stick to conventinal beliefs that if it isn't in a book it's not possible, and i do sincearly appologise if i have offended anyone with that comment. I've done years of research and i believe that, when it comes to the bodies, i could find a way to give you what ever you want, i have even devised ways to do a full physical change, like i said, i believe that anything is possible, you just have to be persistant and pursue your goal till the end.

    And no, i have no degrees whatso ever, i'm just a highschool grad with big dreams for humanity.

    "When animals fall into the history books, I will preserve them in mankind... Many will undoubtably object, but those that approve may far outnumber the naysayers.... I'm not crazy, i'm a dreamer, few people are any more, most are mearly sheep..." - I doth quote Myself
  18. PieAreSquared Woo is resistant to reason Registered Senior Member

    Sure hope mine wags
  19. Pantherine Registered Member

    Magic is about belief, i think there for i am, sadly the Mana, Chi, what ever you wish to call it is spread too thin, due to humanity being WAY over its carrying capacity, if you remember highscool biology. It is still here, the amount is the same...But spread between 6.5 bil people. I am known as a Wiccan, but as well i am a man of science, and i belive that science and magic, unlike popular belief, can work in harmony. We have what we need now in science to do what so many for generations have wished to do. All we need is, Funding, and that can be acheived in numerous ways, like minds, we're all over the world, and a facility that provides humane work, that may be the only obstacle. I'm not sure of the name "Huldrefolk" But it may "Grow on me"

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    . One man can't change the world alone in on night, but many men and women of like mindedness, could possible do so.
  20. Pantherine Registered Member

    All we would need to do my friend is simply redesign chairs, couches, and a few other things to acomadate for our tails, even all that considered, there will be times when it will get in the way, but no worries

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  21. Pantherine Registered Member

    All valid points, and there are people like that. It may add an extra edge to our balance that we didn't have before, then again, it may just be an asthetics thing. Don't know, but it would still be exciting to find out

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  22. Pantherine Registered Member

    I may be new here but i say we vote.

    Those for tails?

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    Those against?

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    Abstainers? :shrug:
  23. Mawom Teh Fox Saiyan Registered Member

    2 things,
    1. i know how to lay down on my back with a tail
    just stick your tail inbetween your lages and lie down

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