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prehensile (adj) [of a part of an animalís body] able to hold things

Any part of an animalís body that can hold things or curl round something is prehensile. The monkey, for example, can hang upside down from the branch of a tree, by curling its tail round the branch; so the moneyís tail is prehensile. So is the body of a serpent, because it can curl round things and hold on to them. Most animals are able to move about safely because of their prehensile parts of the body.

  • The squirrel balances itself on its prehensile tail while eating a nut. It uses its tail to balance itself on thin branches or twigs.
  • The monkey could not notice the prehensile body of the python curled round the branch and moved near it. The python swallowed it.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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