This answer made me wonder, how would our society be different if humans had tails?

Of course, tails come in all sorts and sizes, so let's say we had a monkey type tail. One you could wrap around a branch and hang on. About as hairy as an arm.

I can imagine all sorts of minor adjustments, like having to allow for a tail in our clothes. But even that poses the question whether we'd want to show our tail, or hide it.

But would toilets look even remotely like they do now, if you could wrap your tail around a rail for balance? Would we sleep in beds, or in hammocks?

What effect would those changes, combined, have on our society?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd be interested to hear the reasons for the close vote. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2014 at 19:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't know about the other close voter, but I voted for "too broad" because I feel like this kind of big-picture "How would ____ change society?" question is way too broad to be easily answered. See the examples here. $\endgroup$
    – Bobson
    Sep 28, 2014 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ Upon reflection I agree with Bobson, I think this question would need to be narrowed down to for example the impact on furniture or building design or something so answers can be clearly scoped. How the entirety of society would change is just too broad. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Oct 4, 2014 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ This is still up for closing and still too broad. Does the OP want to narrow it down perhaps? OP? :P $\endgroup$
    – mechalynx
    Oct 4, 2014 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, I meant it as broad as I asked it. If it's too broad, perhaps it's best to close it. $\endgroup$
    – SQB
    Oct 4, 2014 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


Assume we are still mostly ground dwelling despite the fact that those tails are best for tree dwelling.

A few notes:

  • If we had a tail, I would expect we would use it. They are not as dexterous as hands but expect to use it to balance, ground, carry things, etc.
  • I would except that if we use our tail, we would not always need to clothe it entirely. It is not a sexual or excretory part of the body. This would however change style of dress. I have a hard time seeing how pants would fit quite right. We might wear more dresses/skirts/stockings instead of pants, but if I lift my tail you would likely see areas meant to be clothed. We also might not wear clothes except for the fact that you said it is mostly hairless so we would need to for warmth. The only real option, therefore, seems to be clothes with a hole in them and an attached tube of cloth to nylon so you can't see through the hole. They may extend the length of the tail and be closed for formal dress. A long sock for the tail could be worn but may be optional. Skirts may contain two layers of cloth instead of one with the tail escaping between them.

  • Chairs would be uncomfortable; expect stools, forward leaning workbeds, other creative ideas. As this seems to be contentious let me clarify: One could feasibly thread one's tail through a hole in the back (holeless chairs are a no go). That would be annoying, however, when going to sit down each time. When I do sit in chairs with backs, I frequently jut my pelvis to the front of the seat and lean back against the chair. This is the main way I use the back of the chair and this results in my sitting partially on my tailbone. I don't want to do that with a tail as that would be very uncomfortable. If I had a tail, I believe I would prefer either a stool, bench, or bed much more than the couch I relax on at home. I don't know exactly how we would sit but it would not exactly be an office chair with hole in it. Large slot, maybe. Hole, probably not. Keep in mind, animals with prehensile tails use them for living in trees where they use their tails to support themselves rather than on the ground where we mostly evolved. Try to incorporate the tail into how they would sit/relax instead of trying to work around it in the simplest way.

  • Sports/athletics would incorporate them. Olympic tree climbing?

  • Toilet water tanks would be elevated or on the side.

  • Whiplike, mobile tails would be a sign of virility. Hairy, thick, muscular ones would be a sign of masculinity. Expect women to shave their tails.

That is not a good enough answer but it provides some contribution.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see why chairs would be a problem, though. There should be nothing preventing the construction of a chair with provisions for a tail, and the market would surely exist if humans had a protruding tail. The chair I'm sitting in right now (reasonably high-end office chair) has an opening between the seat and the back rest; not enough for a tail to comfortably exit through there, but that's only because nobody would be looking specifically for such a feature in our world. Many kitchen chair designs have more or less open back rests, which would allow for a tail already. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Sep 27, 2014 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ They exist and could be designed. We are used to sitting in chairs, however, because it is a natural posture for us because we don't have tails. If we grew tails now, we would make couchs with holes in the back. If we never didn't have tails, the popular furniture for relaxing in a semi relaxing state would be different. How exactly I am not 100% sure. I would have to study relaxed monkeys. $\endgroup$
    – kaine
    Sep 27, 2014 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ On the chair thing, I'd expect that since we use our buttocks to sit, not our tailbone, if we had a seat that accommodates buttocks but has a "slot" for the tail (like a triangle cutout in the back of the disc or square area to sit on) it would work just fine. Since we haven't lost our tails in this setting however, perhaps other adjustments haven't happened either and we find it more comfortable (or sensible) to sit on the ground or pillows. Or maybe seats are wide but not very deep, like branches. $\endgroup$
    – mechalynx
    Sep 30, 2014 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ If the tail is like a monkey tail, it'll probably curl up, rather than just hanging down. Perhaps the double skirt would work, but the over-tail skirt would have to be quite short, and if the tail curves sharply up, the slit would be revealed. Perhaps we'd just be less bothered by that. $\endgroup$
    – TRiG
    Oct 1, 2014 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ To actually figure this out fully I'd have to make many flexible prosthetics for each type of tail and clothes to try but: I envisioned a tail that extends from the body at a downward slope (due to the slope of the spine) and then can extend downward or bend upwards after a few inches as it is prehensile. This first downward slope would cover most under tail gaps on the skirt especially as the point of the inner one was to pull flush against the bottom of the tail. The outer skirt would extend at least those few inches on the tail. Could be slit after that. Could be longer and lift a little. $\endgroup$
    – kaine
    Oct 1, 2014 at 17:08

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