The tail often differs remarkably in length within the same genus: thus in some species of Macacus it is longer than the whole body, and is formed of twenty-four vertebrae; in others it consists of a scarcely visible stump, containing only three or four vertebrae. In some kinds of baboons there are twenty-five, whilst in the mandrill there are ten very small stunted caudal vertebrae, or, according to Cuvier (90. Mr. St. George Mivart, 'Proc. Zoolog. Soc.' 1865, pp. 562, 583. Dr. J.E. Gray, 'Cat. Brit. Mus.: 'Skeletons.' Owen, 'Anatomy of Vertebrates,' vol. ii. p. 517. Isidore Geoffroy, 'Hist. Nat. Gen.' tom. ii. p. 244.), sometimes only five. The tail, whether it be long or short, almost always tapers towards the end; and this, I presume, results from the atrophy of the terminal muscles, together with their arteries and nerves, through disuse, leading to the atrophy of the terminal bones. But no explanation can at present be given of the great diversity which often occurs in its length. Here, however, we are more specially concerned with the complete external disappearance of the tail. Professor Broca has recently shewn (91. 'Revue d'Anthropologie,' 1872; 'La Constitution des vertebres caudales.') that the tail in all quadrupeds consists of two portions, generally separated abruptly from each other; the basal portion consists of vertebrae, more or less perfectly channelled and furnished with apophyses like ordinary vertebrae; whereas those of the terminal portion are not channelled, are almost smooth, and scarcely resemble true vertebrae. A tail, though not externally visible, is really present in man and the anthropomorphous apes, and is constructed on exactly the same pattern in both. In the terminal portion the vertabrae, constituting the os coccyx, are quite rudimentary, being much reduced in size and number. In the basal portion, the vertebrae are likewise few, are united firmly together, and are arrested in development; but they have been rendered much broader and flatter than the corresponding vertebrae in the tails of other animals: they constitute what Broca calls the accessory sacral vertebrae. These are of functional importance by supporting certain internal parts and in other ways; and their modification is directly connected with the erect or semi-erect attitude of man and the anthropomorphous apes. This conclusion is the more trustworthy, as Broca formerly held a different view, which he has now abandoned. The modification, therefore, of the basal caudal vertebrae in man and the higher apes may have been effected, directly or indirectly, through natural selection.

But what are we to say about the rudimentary and variable vertebrae of the terminal portion of the tail, forming the os coccyx? A notion which has often been, and will no doubt again be ridiculed, namely, that friction has had something to do with the disappearance of the external portion of the tail, is not so ridiculous as it at first appears. Dr. Anderson (92. 'Proceedings Zoological Society,' 1872, p. 210.) states that the extremely short tail of Macacus brunneus is formed of eleven vertebrae, including the imbedded basal ones. The extremity is tendinous and contains no vertebrae; this is succeeded by five rudimentary ones, so minute that together they are only one line and a half in length, and these are permanently bent to one side in the shape of a hook. The free part of the tail, only a little above an inch in length, includes only four more small vertebrae. This short tail is carried erect; but about a quarter of its total length is doubled on to itself to the left; and this terminal part, which includes the hook-like portion, serves "to fill up the interspace between the upper divergent portion of the callosities;" so that the animal sits on it, and thus renders it rough and callous. Dr. Anderson thus sums up his observations: "These facts seem to me to have only one explanation; this tail, from its short size, is in the monkey's way when it sits down, and frequently becomes placed under the animal while it is in this attitude; and from the circumstance that it does not extend beyond the extremity of the ischial tuberosities, it seems as if the tail originally had been bent round by the will of the animal, into the interspace between the callosities, to escape being pressed between them and the ground, and that in time the curvature became permanent, fitting in of itself when the organ happens to be sat upon." Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the surface of the tail should have been roughened and rendered callous, and Dr.

Charles Darwin

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