Hanging upside down is a challenge for the majority of human beings, mostly problematic due to poor grip, fear of heights and consequential dizziness. The amazing adaptations of many species enable them to use different parts of their bodies to hang for hours at a time, whether hanging out alone, with friends or to feed.
The mobile shoulder joints and long arms and fingers of the chimpanzee enable it to move easily through the trees and hang out with other members of their community.
The forelimbs of the koala are unusually long when compared with their hindlimbs. The paws are padded and help when gripping and climbing. It also has large claws, except for on the first digit of the hind paw. The first and second digits of the hind paws are opposed like thumbs to help grip branches.
The northern muriqui has a long, prehensile tail which acts as an extra limb. This species uses this specialist adaptation to hang from the trees, while using its other limbs to grab food from the surrounding area. That’s what you call multi-tasking!
The Diadem roundleaf bat uses its hanging abilities to scope out prey. The predicatable flight paths of its insect prey means this species can hang out of a tree, and on detecting an insect, drop from its perch at great speed and catch its victim.
Geckos are well-known for their ability to climb almost anything. In the Musandam leaf-toed gecko, the toes have a pair of specialised scales known as ‘scansors’, which are covered in thousands of tiny microscopic hairs, giving the species a remarkable grip and enabling it to hang upside down even on the smoothest surfaces.
Plants can hang out too!
Pitcher plants, such as Nepenthes macfarlanei (left) and Nepenthes lowii (right), have large, pitcher shaped leaves hanging from coiled tendrils. These are filled with concentrated fluid, which is used to digest their insect prey.
So, to be an expert hanger, you can develop hairy hands, grow an extra (preferably prehensile) limb, make your arms longer, or just practice really hard until you bulk up enough to join the best of the hangers. Alternatively, you could just hang out with your friends on Google +.
Google + is a fairly new kid on the social media block but with over 90 million users, it’s growing fast. On this network, you +1 things you like and share with your friends who are grouped in circles. We love sharing endangered species photos, videos and facts with our Google circles. You can also create ‘hangouts’ where you can video chat with up to 9 of your friends. Why not add ARKive to your circle?
What’s the most social species on ARKive?
Join our search to find the most social species on ARKive. Visit the species you think is the most social and press Google +. The species with the most new Google +1s will win the title of the ‘No.1 Social Species’ in the Social Species contest. Who will win? +1 to ensure your favourite is a contender!
Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern