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Appendages that can become prehensile include:
- Prehensile feet:
- Prehensile tails – Many extant lizards have prehensile tails (geckos, chameleons, and a species of skink). 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 arm – arms such as those of octopuses
- Upper lip, such as that of the Florida manatee
- Phallus, for example that of the dolphin
Prehensility affords animals and humans a great natural advantage in manipulating their environment for feeding, digging and defense. It enables many animals, such as primates, to use tools in order 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 behaviors.
- Silvio Renesto, Justin A. Spielmann, Spencer G. Lucas, and Giorgio Tarditi Spagnoli. (2010). The taxonomy and paleobiology of the Late Triassic (Carnian-Norian: Adamanian-Apachean) drepanosaurs (Diapsida: Archosauromorpha: Drepanosauromorpha). New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin. 46:1–81
- Jörg Fröbisch and Robert R. Reisz. (2009). The Late Permian herbivore Suminia and the early evolution of arboreality in terrestrial vertebrate ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Online First doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0911