Who Stole Kei$ha’s Tail?

We all know pop singer Kei$ha can be a bit unusual at times.

Like when the “Gonna Die Young” singer admitted that she drinks her own urine. (BTW, on her reality show Ke$ha: My Crazy, Beautiful Life, she said “it tasted kind of like candy” (does she have diabetes?).

So does it even raise an eyebrow when she says that someone stole her tail?

Apparently Kei$ha volunteered, in interview with Heat, that:

I had a tail when I was born. It was a tiny tail, about a quarter of an inch, then they chopped it off and stole my tail. That was when I was little. I’m really sad about that story.

Is this even possible? Absolutely YES.

The Vestigial Tail and 4 Other Body Parts You No Longer Need

6 Weeks Pregnant

6 week embryo

1. The Tail:

Human vestigiality involves those body parts which occur in the humans which have lost all or most of their original function through evolution.

A 5 to 6 week human embryo normally has an embryonic tail which contains 10 to 12 vertebrae. As humans no longer needed a tail to assist in balance or for mobility, over the next 2-3 weeks the cells in those tissues are scheduled to die causing the tail to disappear by 8 weeks. The coccyx, or tailbone, is the remnant of this lost tail. The coccyx has probably not disappeared completely as it still serves some function as an anchor point for muscles of the spine and pelvis.

tail05In a very small number of people the cells in the embryonic tail do not die and some portion of it may remain at birth. These are called “true tails.” About a third of what are reported as human tails are actually false or “pseudo tails.” These do not develop as a result of the death of embryonic tail cells but are usually complications of other processes such as spina bifida, tumors or even the remnants of a parasitic twin.

True tails can vary in size from a fraction of an inch to several inches long. The longest known tail was reportedly 13 inches long and belonged to a man in India. For the most part, these tails do not include any vertebral bones. They can contain muscle, connective tissue, nerves and fatty tissue.

They can be removed surgically, usually shortly after birth.

2. The Appendix

vermiform_appendixThe appendix is a hollow pouch, about the size and shape of your little finger, off the end of the large intestine, and in located in the right lower part of the abdomen. The function of the appendix is unknown although there are several proposed theories. One is that the appendix is purely vestigial– that our distant ancestors used a larger version of it to store bacteria that help digest complex plants. Others say that the appendix has an immune system function, housing infection fighting cells. Still others say that it acts as a storage center for helpful bacteria to maintain our gut flora.

The main problem associated with the appendix is, of course, the  infection appendicitis.

Removal of the appendix does not seem to cause any harm to a person’s health. In the past, the appendix was routinely removed and discarded during other abdominal surgeries as a preventive measure of later contracting appendicitis. However, new surgical procedures have been able to use the appendix as a replacement for a diseased ureter or urinary sphincter muscle, so healthy appendices are now left in place.

3. Male Nipples

If the function of a nipple is to allow a baby to suckle milk, then why do men (and for that matter nearly all male mammals) have nipples?

The bottom line answer – because women do.

As you may know, human cells contain 46 chromosomes which contain all of our DNA. Half come from your mother, the other half from your father. Only one set of those 23 pairs, the X and Y chromosome determine what sex any given baby will become. The rest supply the blueprints for what each one of us will have as “standard equipment.”

milklineAll fetuses initially develop under the influence of the female hormone estrogen (it’s the main one circulating in significant amounts). This causes the embryos to develop parallel mammary ridges (called milk lines) by 3 to 4 weeks gestation. These will later develop into nipples.

A few weeks later (about 6-8 weeks), cells in male infants begin to differentiate into Leydig cells and begin to produce the male hormone testosterone. From this point on, development of male traits increases, and the further development of female structures is inhibited.

4. Wisdom Teeth

permanent teeth eruption chartWisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop and appear in your mouth. They come in between the ages of 17 and 25 years, and are the ones in the back of the mouth closest to the soft palate.

Our prehistoric ancestors had much larger and prominent jaws because their teeth played a vital in survival. Their diet consisted of tough, chewy leaves and roots and raw meat, and having 32 teeth helped break down these foods.

As early human’s stance became more upright, they were able to use their hands to gather food, and began to create the first tools. This, plus the use of fire to cook food allowed our ancestor’s diet to change dramatically.

At the same time, the human brain was growing. The skull changed shaped to accommodate this, with a bigger cranium and small jaw.

Having a smaller jaw leads to crowding of the teeth- especially of those third molars. This can lead to several problems:

  • Impaction: An impacted wisdom tooth has failed to erupt through the gum line.They may also come in at a funny angle or in an unexpected location. Poor positioning can cause pain and infection.
  • The third molars are difficult to clean, so they could rot and infect nearby teeth
  • They may also crowd adjacent teeth, undoing years of braces.

For these reasons, many dentists  recommend removing wisdom teeth in young adults, before the teeth have the chance to attach to the jaw and complicate their removal.

5. Goose Bumps

goosebumps Goose bumps, also called goose flesh, goose pimples, the medical term cutis anserina, are the bumps on a person’s skin at the base of body hairs which may develop involuntarily when a person is cold or experiences strong emotions such as fear, nostalgia, pleasure, euphoria, awe, admiration and sexual arousal.

The formation of goose bumps in humans under stress is a vestigial reflex; a possible function in human evolutionary ancestors was to raise the body’s hair, making the ancestor appear larger and scaring off predators. Raising the hair is also used to trap an extra layer of air, keeping an animal warm.

Of course, with our marked decrease in body hair, goose bumps don’t do much for us these days. Either in scaring off predators or keeping us warm.

What gives you goosebumps?  Here’s an interesting piece about how music, particularly sad music and emotionally painful memories give some people goosebumps.



Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real Time Analytics Google Analytics Alternative