BMJ Case Reports 2012; doi:10.1136/bcr.11.2011.5160
  • Rare disease

An infant with caudal appendage

  1. Rakesh Biswas2
  1. 1Department of General Surgery, People’s College of Medical Sciences & Research Centre Bhopal, Bhopal, India
  2. 2Department of Medicine, People’s College of Medical Sciences, Bhopal, India
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rakesh Biswas, rakesh7biswas{at}


There are several human atavisms that reflect our common genetic heritage with other mammals. One of the most striking is the existence of the rare ‘true human tail’. It is a rare event with fewer than 40 cases reported in the literature. The authors report a case of an infant born with the true tail. A 3-month-old baby girl, presented with an 11 cm long tail, which was successfully surgically removed. Human embryos normally have a prenatal tail, which disappears in the course of embryogenesis by programmed cell death. Recent advances in genetic research reveal that ‘of those organs lost, in evolution, most species carry ‘genetic blue prints’. Thus, rarely the appearance of ancient organs like tail may be the result of re-expression of these switched off gene.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article