This is a submission for the Anatomically Correct Series

Fantasy worlds from Asian novels (and related media) have lots of kemonomimis.

They are human-ish species that have animal ears and tails. Of the fox, wolf, cat, bear, raccoon, dog, lizard, and so on.


Sometimes they are depicted with both human and animal ears, but we are ignoring this type.

What is the anatomy of those ears? Where in the kemonomimi skull are the ear orifices located?


How much can their tails bend at the junction to the body?

Can they use human furniture, like chairs normally, or do they need a hole/side opening for the tail?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I disagree with the proposed duplicate as the duplicate target is not asking for how much the tails can bend and therefore ignores the part about using human furniture. The other question asks broadly about anatomy, but this question is more focused on specific parts of the anatomy. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 12 '18 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ The four-eared variant could exist as something similar to mooses using their antlers to reflect sound to their ears, although the extra ears would look quite different from most animal ears, and would instead be large, solid, and curved downwards $\endgroup$ – Ichthys King Apr 21 at 18:24

This is an interesting question. I would like to preface my answer with I am not a biologist so this answer may be no more than educated speculation. That being said, let's get into it.

A key thing to note here is that animal people anatomies would have to vary significantly. Many mammals have similar senses to human, but something that I saw mentioned is lizard people. Many reptiles simply don't have ears. That's not to say that they don't have eardrums, just that ears don't necessarily appear. Animal senses are not always consistent with the human senses so that makes this question particularly challenging in some regards.

However, by examining skulls of both human, and other animal species, it can be seen that regardless of ear positioning, the hole used for "wiring" the eardrum, is found at the base of the jaw bone. This leads to a highly likely interpretation that a kemonomimi would have similar if not the exact same ear channels. However, the other consideration is skull shape. Ears seem to require an indent into the otherwise convex skull. If the ears were to be positioned on top as seen in various media, it would require a weird skull indent that isn't commonly, if ever, seen. This could produce a decrease in brain function as well as mechanical stability issues. It seems that the ears on top of the head would require a certain spacing to help decrease these issues. However, after examining media it seems almost perfectly optimized, especially in the case of cat people (sometimes referred to as kemonomimi). A side channel or indent along the skull would allow for the best configuration.

As for tails, again based on media, we can see that they seem to be placed at a well-optimized location. Roughly 2 to 3 vertebrae above the tailbone assembly is the best location. I would envision a vertebra that has a junction in a v-shape allowing for an additional connection. It is reasonable to expect that the tail could bend about as much as it does currently on animals as the mechanics of it scales very nicely. That being said, keep in mind that many animals have the tail more in-line with their spine so it aids in initial angling of the first tail vertebra. Assuming this is true, there is little reason to believe they couldn't sit in a chair. If you notice, in chairs, typically, there's a small gap between a midsection of your spine and the bottom of the chair. For smaller tails, there would be no issues in allowing the tail to rotate to the side. Larger tails, like that portrayed in Spice and Wolf, there could be issues, all of which are ignored to my knowledge in the books and show.

Hopefully, that's enough information and makes sense. Feel free to refute anything I said as it may be wrong

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ No v junction needed. Just take the scapula of a human (which is the vestigial remains of a tail, and elongate and unfuse it) $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Jul 12 '18 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Very good find about the skull auricular orifices $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Jul 12 '18 at 15:11

The ears developed from part of the jaw, so the ear canals can't be much above the jaws. The way real cats have their ears on top is they funnel the sound down to a place right about where the human ear canal is.

So presumably your creatures would work like the real ones do. The ears would go wherever they work best, and they would connect to ear canals in the usual place for mammal skulls.

It just isn't that different.

Ear picture

I was real unclear how to find a scientific answer for dog-tails on humanoids. I reasoned like this: If the creatures are humanoid, maybe their tails will be kind of like primate tails. So if I can find pictures of monkeys with tails sitting in chairs, that will be more convincing than pictures of actual dogs or raccoons sitting in chairs in their own non-humanoid ways.

So I looked for pictures of primates in chairs, and I found nothing but chimpanzees. (Incidentally do NOT google for "monkey rocker".) But many pictures of tailed monkeys sitting on flat surfaces convince me that their tails are quite flexible. At least some species can sit straight with the tail not in the way, turning beside them at a relatively sharp angle. The best pictures I found were stock photos that I can't copy, but here's one.

sitting monkeys

I think for purposes of story-telling, it would be reasonable to have tails that allow sitting in most chairs. There would be enough chairs incompatible with them that if they are given one that doesn't work it would not necessarily be on purpose, but it would be reasonable to suspect it was on purpose.

I can't guess about lizard tails. They are very different. Should a kemonomimi lizard tail break off and wiggle around to let the kemonomimi escape easier? The others are all similar body plans. It's just little differences in shape. Lizards are more different, and it's harder to guess how it might reasonably work.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.