Have you ever noticed that some animals have really long arms compared to their body size? You’ve probably seen monkeys swinging from trees or sloths hanging upside down, and wondered how they can stretch their limbs so far. In this post, we’ll take a look at five amazing animals with super long arms and what they use them for. Get ready to meet some talented creatures!
First up is the gibbon – these small apes are known for having incredibly long arms and using them to swing rapidly through the trees. Gibbons live in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and have arms that are actually longer than their legs! Their forearms can be up to 24 inches long. That’s nearly as long as some human adults are tall!
Gibbons use these lanky limbs to propel themselves from branch to branch at high speeds. They can swing up to 35 miles per hour – that’s faster than you can probably run! Having long arms allows them to reach far between trees and grasp branches firmly as they fly through the forest canopy. Gibbons also use their oversized arms for balance and to hang suspended below branches.
Pretty amazing that such small animals evolved to have such extensive reach and mobility in the treetops. Next time you see a video of a gibbon swinging high above the jungle floor, take a moment to appreciate how its super stretchy arms allow it to master the forest like an Olympic gymnast!
Our next long-armed lurker of the trees is the orangutan. These shaggy red apes are native to the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra and are the largest tree-dwelling animal in the world. An adult male orangutan can have a nearly 8 foot arm span – wider than some small cars!
Orangutans use their lengthy limbs for pulling their heavy bodies through the canopy. They grip branches with their long fingers and hooks their arms to sway between trees or hang comfortably while snacking on fruit. Those lanky arms also come in handy for constructing sleeping nests high in the treetops each night.
Perhaps the most amazing use of the orangutan’s arms is how dexterous they are. Wild orangutans use sticks to acquire honey, leaves to wipe their faces, and leaves as umbrellas when it rains. Such advanced use of tools illustrates how adaptable and intelligent these apes are. Their flexible elbows and tons of arm strength let them interact with their environment in complex ways.
Next time you see an orangutan on TV or at the zoo, check out how they use their lengthy arms like versatile grappling hooks to explore their arboreal world. Pretty brilliant design!
Now let’s swing down south to meet the sloth – the slow-moving poster child for long arms! These shaggy tropical mammals native to South and Central America have arms that take up about two-thirds the length of their entire body. That’s the highest arm-to-body ratio in the mammal world!
Sloths use their incredibly long limbs to hang upside down from tree branches. Their large curved claws allow them to securely grip branches without using much energy. Hanging with their long arms stretched overhead distributes their body weight and keeps them balanced as they sleep, eat and travel through the rainforest canopy.
Those lengthy arms also come in handy when a sloth needs to reach across gaps between trees. They can extend their arms to over 3 feet to grasp distant branches or leaves. A sloth’s arms are so remarkably long that even when standing, their wrists still touch the ground!
So while sloths seem slow and lazy, their super stretchy arms are perfectly adapted for their leisurely, hanging lifestyle. Their design minimizes energy use and allows them to thrive sleeping and munching leaves in the treetops day and night!
Now let’s dive into the ocean to check out another creature with crazy flexible arms – the octopus! These freaky cephalopods are known for having eight squishy tentacles that can elongate, bend, and grip amazingly well.
An octopus tentacle has no bones or outer skeleton, so it can stretch, twist, and squeeze into the tightest spaces in pursuit of prey. Each tentacle is lined with hundreds of suckers that an octopus uses to anchor itself securely to rocks, coral, or stalk its next meal. The giant Pacific octopus has tentacles that can reach an incredible 20 feet long!
Octopuses put their lengthy, dexterous arms to all sorts of clever uses. They retrieve shells and tools to build protective dens. Their arms can manipulate complex puzzles and jar lids in lab experiments. They even use their stretchy limbs like nets to trap unsuspecting crabs, fish and shellfish!
One of the most amazing octopus abilities is instantaneous camouflage. Special cells called chromatophores in the skin of their tentacles allow them to blend instantaneously with their surroundings, disguising them from prey or predators. Having long, flexible arms helps octopuses change texture and color in a flash to match rocks, plants and coral until they are nearly invisible!
Clearly, the octopus is a master of using its eight extraordinarily lengthy, strong and nimble arms to survive the depths and dominate its ocean habitat!
Our final creature with impressively long arms is one you’ve likely eaten – the squid! These torpedo-shaped creatures are masters of the open ocean with ten squishy arms sprouting from their heads. The longest arms are the two tentacles which squid use like elastic grappling hooks to quickly snag their prey.
A squid’s two tentacles are usually longer than its body and lightning fast. Large species like the Humboldt squid have tentacles that can shoot out nearly 20 feet to seize unsuspecting fish! They coil them back just as fast, bringing the struggling prey to their sharp beak-like mouths.
Squid tentacles operate via jet propulsion, shooting out water to rocket the tentacles forward with immense power. They also have wickedly sharp hooks and suction cups lining their tentacles to really harpoon and secure slippery prey. Some deep-sea squid even have glow-in-the-dark sections on their arms to attract prey in the inky blackness!
In addition to hunting, squid use their extra long tentacles for defense and communication. When threatened, they can whip their arms menacingly or spray ink to disorient predators. Male squid display complex color patterns along their tentacles when courting females.
Clearly, squid have evolved super elongating tentacles that allow them to thrive as aggressive predators and communicate in the open ocean. Their speed, reach and strength make them among the most successful hunters found in the sea!