Prehensility facts for kids
Prehensility is the quality of an appendage or organ that has adapted for grasping or holding. The word is derived from the Latin term prehendere, meaning "to grasp". The ability to grasp is likely derived from a number of different origins. The most common are tree-climbing and the need to manipulate food.
Appendages that can become prehensile include:
- The hands of primates are all prehensile to varying degrees
- Prehensile feet:
- Prehensile tails – New World monkeys have prehensile tails, as do many extant lizards (geckos, chameleons, and a species of skink). Seahorses grip seaweed with their tails. Several fossil animals have been interpreted as having prehensile tails, including several Late Triassic drepanosaurs, and possibly the Late Permian synapsid Suminia.
- Tongue – of giraffes in particular
- Nose – elephants, tapirs
- Lips – lake sturgeon, orangutans, horses and rhinos
- Cephalopod limb – arms such as those of octopuses
- Upper lip, such as that of the West Indian manatee
Prehensility affords animals a great natural advantage in manipulating their environment for feeding, climbing, digging, and defense. It enables many animals, such as primates, to use tools to complete tasks that would otherwise be impossible without highly specialized anatomy. For example, chimpanzees have the ability to use sticks to obtain termites and grubs in a manner similar to human fishing. However, not all prehensile organs are applied to tool use; the giraffe tongue, for instance, is instead used in feeding and self-cleaning.
Prehensility Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.