My Minute of News: What if humans could get their tails back?

Sep 28, 2021, 7:07 PM

Image credit: Canva...

Image credit: Canva

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — I read an article the other day at Science.org about how scientists tinkering with strands of monkey DNA have made an important discovery. They’ve identified a gene that gives monkeys their tails. They say that, via evolution, that little wiggly strand of DNA was shut off in human beings.

And for that reason, you don’t have a tail.

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The gene is called TBXT. A series of random letters, yes, but if it makes it easier they could stand for too bad, no tail. The researchers say TBXT mutations give mice short tails, but they also give monkeys more substantial tails.

And I wonder. Now that they’ve identified the gene, long since shut down in humans, could they turn it back on?

Because it’d be kind of interesting to have a long curly tail. Oh, it’d get in the way when I’d sit down in the car.

But a tail looping up over your belt? You could swing from branches! You could use it as a broom. Or if you’re talented, an extra hand to help with dinner.

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Or would modesty require that you keep it covered?

Don’t know. Don’t have to worry about it. Because they haven’t tried to turn the gene back on. When evolution turned this TBXT gene off, it cut off our tails but the researchers say it also opened the door for birth defects to the spine.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if *that* was eradicated? With a flip of a genetic switch? But at a price.

I wonder too if tails might hamper future generations. We might wag or wiggle them, but with the way our world is going? I worry we’d just use them as selfie sticks.

Tune to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio to catch Jeff’s “My Minute of News” — and more stories like this one. 


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My Minute of News: What if humans could get their tails back?