I see a lot of this stuff in softcore fiction or high fantasy. A character or alien has some kind of bind or whipping ability, Either it's ribbons, bandages, Tentacles, Chains, vines, etc. Usually, starts with

"Take gun away, grab them by the leg and hang them upside down"

In some instances where the whip, chain, tentacle, ribbon, etc. Is in use. This is justified because of some kind of magic source that enhances and weaponizes the movement.

Though for a hardcore Gene-splicing setting, where a folded tentacle is attached to the wrist with specialized muscles inside to enhance movement, no suckers or anything unless it is at the tip. really be practical as a close combat weapon or utility use like we see in the movies?

Binding people's necks, legs, torso, Taking away their weapon, a stinger on the tip to venomize, stab, Pinch etc.

If this biological weapon did exist. What would be the pros and cons compared to traditional leather whips?

  • $\begingroup$ would the chameleon or frog tongue or a scorpion's sting be close enough real world examples for you ? $\endgroup$
    – P Chapman
    Oct 23, 2017 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I would say the closest is a squid tentacle that can be used like a whip $\endgroup$
    – Red_Wasp
    Oct 23, 2017 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ A little tip: it's recommended to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer to give people in different timezones a chance to have a look at your question and the answers you receive. Sometimes there are things in answers that need some work and sometimes people post better answers later. Writing a good answer often takes some time. Waiting a bit can potentially increase the quality of the answers you receive as some people may think "Well, he got his answer already, no need to look at the post". Of course it's your choice to decide what helped you, just a tip for the future. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Oct 23, 2017 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ Remember the ankylosaurus's club-tail, too. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2017 at 20:55

3 Answers 3


I once owned an iguana who was the terror of my cats. If he felt pestered, he'd cock that tail back and let them have it. The Iguana tail is a combination of weight from the muscles and speed at the tip (thanks to those same muscles). Add the dorsal ridges and, for my cats (and to a more limited extent, to me) it was a mighty and fearsome weapon.


While whips may be a useful and practical weapon from the perspective of the animal kingdom, when applied against any creature with the intelligence to create a bladed weapon they're next to useless. If the first strike/surprise can be had, then they would possibly kill, but more likely only daze or disarm an attacker. After that, they're sushi. And like nearly all natural appendages used as weapons, they have the nasty habit of not growing back. Adding armor improves the liklihood of survival at the cost of lowered usefullness.

Conclusion: impractical (Technology will always overcome a natural advantage. Evolution of the reasoning mind is more valuable than any natural offensive or defensive device.)


There were dinosaurs with whip tails. Modeling shows a very dangerous weapon. for the structure of a whip it is important that it taper in width across its length and it must start stiff and get more flexible as you go along until the end is as flexible as rope. this is how a small strong motion gets transferred into a large fast motion.

Some has proposed that the end of the tail would have been covered in a long modified flexible scales since the tips is what takes the most punishment, and other preserved dinosaurs show some really strange scale structures so such modification is easily possible(quills in psittacosaurus weird back scales on Brachylophosaurus).

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Whips, especially the tip, undergo severe strain when used as they are in certain movies.

Even best leather whips usually have replaceable tips because it breaks quite easily.

To have a workable biologic weapon you would need to have one that regrows quite fast and is mightily strong, resilient and insensible to pain (at least near the tip).

I'm not sure it can be done with current physiology and surely I'm not aware of such a thing existing.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thresher sharks use their whip-like tails. youtube.com/watch?v=lHoCCPsRuhg. Also theguardian.com/science/2013/jul/10/… $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Oct 23, 2017 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim: I stand corrected... to a point. That is a very different kind of whip foxtail shark is sporting. If I understood correctly OP was thinking something like the bullwhip or even a blacksnake bullwhip, both capable of cracking and grabbing, something some expert have some doubt it might be useful. $\endgroup$
    – ZioByte
    Oct 23, 2017 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ True, but I think in a Worldbuilding aspect it offers a way to build such a creature. Another example is the pistol shrimp. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Oct 23, 2017 at 21:37

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