The creature I'm designing has a tail with spikes on the end of it. The material of the spikes should be strong/durable (not break easily), and very sharp (the edge as well as the sides, being able to cut through most materials like metal). The tail has several uses where these spikes might be a very real problem (like balancing, flexing around stuff to pick it up, and such). I'm looking for a way for the creature to protect itself and its surroundings from these spikes when they are not necessary.
So far I've come up with:
- Retract them somehow (how? a long 'shard' is a bit different then a cat's claw for example, and they should not cut themselves when retracting them)
- Vice versa: cover them with skin or something similar (how?)
- Make them less 'spiky' or only sharp at the very edge (but then they become less useful in my world)
- Just naturally learn to live with it (but that seems like a cheap way out)
I guess there is a reason most animals have either retractable claws or no claws if they need their hands/feet. But would there be a solution that is (biologically speaking) logical / plausible?
I couldn't find a question that addresses something like this. Retractable claws have been discussed: Retractable claws in otherwise human-like hands? But these are (curved) claws on fingers; I'm not sure if their design would work on my creature ('shards' on a tail).