In the movie Avatar, the Na'Vi have a human-like body; two hands, two legs and a head.

Aside from their blue skin the only overt difference from humans is that they possess a tail.

My question is : Why do Na'Vi people have tails?

  • 12
    Because Cameron wrote them with tails.
    – Kreiri
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 11:22
  • 10
    Rule 34, without a doubt. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 11:31
  • 6
    @dvk - Rule #34 doesn't apply given that the film already includes a smurf-porn sequence.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 17:58
  • 4
    @Richard If there is one thing you can count on with the internet, Rule 34 always applies, even when already applied.
    – Xantec
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 12:22
  • to quote Raj Koothrapalli - "...Tails are their junks..." and you should be careful around James Cameron. Commented May 14, 2015 at 12:07

3 Answers 3


The Na'vi have tails for three primary reasons;

For balance (and grip).

The Official Film Companion book states that the Na'vi's tails are used to help them balance their tall forms as well as gripping branches;

"For balancing their long torso and legs, the Na'vi have a long, prehensile lemur-like tail. They can traverse the landscape on the surface as well as using a form of brachiation from branch to branch similar to Earth primates."

This is backed up by an identical reference on the Avatar: Pandorapedia website.

"All Na’vi have a long, prehensile tail. This is used for balance, acting as a moving countermass to smooth out the stride at a full run, and to assist with direction changes. The tail is also used for social cues regarding emotional states, as are the ears. Some Na’vi subspecies can suspend their weight from their tail, but the Na’vi in the Hell’s Gate region cannot. They have been observed however using the prehensile tip of the tail to grip tree limbs and vines during climbing, and to help arrest a fall."

For communication

In a pre-release interview, James Cameron discussed the reason that the Na'vi were given tails:

On Avatars having tails, James smiled and said, “The studio asked me the same question. They asked, ‘Do they have to have tails?’ We’re very happy with the way the Na’vi worked out because what we found is the tail and the ears show the characters’ emotional state. A cat owner knows that you can tell a cat’s mood by what its tail is doing. Just as we created a verbal language, we created a vocabulary for the tail and the ears.”

For sexual purposes

We see Jake and Neytiri interlocking their tails when having sex. It's reasonable to assume that a prehensile tail will contain a sizeable number of nerve-endings so the feeling of two tails pressed together may be sexually pleasurable to the Na'Vi.


In universe: tails are useful to aid balance when running or jumping, that's why Earth animals have them - just look at how a Cheetah uses its tail when hunting down a zig-zagging gazelle.

The Na'vi do a lot of running and jumping in the jungle, and it probably also helps when they ride various creatures. So it's plausible that a tail would confer an evolutionary advantage.

And of course it's a way to make them look more exotic while keeping their shape basically human and thus compatible for the audience to identify with them.

  • I would only add to your last sentence, that the tail may be used to distinguish between the Na'vi and the way we picture a human being. So to say, yes, they are intelligent spices, and no, they are not different enough from the rest of Pandora original inhabitants. Which of course works in favor of Pandora's inhabitants in general, in contrast to the Na'vi in particular.
    – Khaloymes
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 14:19
  • We'll they are very different from the rest of Pandora's inhabitants in that they only have 4 limbs. But that is another question.
    – vascowhite
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 23:58

As other's have said, for balance while traversing the jungle is one reason they evolved that way.

I'm surprised to find that no one has mentioned the other function of their tails. Turns out that their tails are extensions of their spinal column and end with a "connector" of sorts allowing them to connect their brain/consciousness with the various animals on the planet and bond with them. So that's another reason for the tail evolution.

  • Nah look at his use of the phrase "The only thing they have different is a long tail?". He's referring to why they have them at all not why they are long. Humans don't have tails of any kind. If we had short tails as opposed to a Na'vi's long one you might be right.
    – Dagonis
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:50

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