Tentacles can refer to the elongated flexible organs that are present in some animals, especially invertebrates, and sometimes to the hairs of the leaves of some insectivorous plants. Usually, they are used for feeding, feeling and grasping. Anatomically, they work like other muscular hydrostats.
Tentacles in invertebrates
Template:See also The phylum Mollusca includes many species with muscular hydrostats in the form of tentacles and arms (octopuses do not have tentacles: they have arms). Tentacles are longer than arms and usually have suckers at their tips only. Squid and cuttlefish have eight arms like octopuses, but also two tentacles.
The tentacles of the Giant Squid and Colossal Squid are particularly formidable, having powerful suckers and pointed teeth at the ends of the tentacle. The teeth of the Giant Squid are small, "bottle cap"-shaped circular saws, while the tentacles of the Colossal Squid wield two long rows of swivelling and three-pointed hooks.
Snails are another class of Mollusca. They have far less elaborate tentacles than the Cephalopods. Pulmonate land snails usually have two sets of tentacles on the head: the upper pair have an eye at the end; the lower pair are for olfaction. Both pairs are fully retractable. Some marine snails such as the abalone and the top snails, Trochidae have numerous small tentacles around the edge of the mantle. These are known as pallial tentacles.
Cnidarians, which include among others the jellyfishes, are another phylum with many tentaculated specimens. Cnidarians often have huge numbers of cnidocytes on their tentacles. Cnidocytes are cells containing a coiled thread-like structure called a nematocyst, which can be fired at potential prey.
Many species of the jellyfishlike ctenophores have two tentacles, while some have none. Their tentacles have adhesive structures called colloblasts or lasso cells. These cells burst open when prey comes in contact with the tentacle; sticky threads released from each of the colloblasts will then capture the food.
Bryozoa (Moss animals) are tiny creatures with a ring of tentacles surrounding the mouth.
Tentacles in terrestrial vertebrates
The Tongue of terrestrial vertebrates functions very much like a tendril or a short tentacle, helping to manipulate, as well as taste food as it enters the mouth. Some vertebrates, like Giraffes, have prehensile tongues, allowing them to pull food into the mouth, also frogs and Chameleons have extremely long, elastic tongues (often longer than their own bodies) that can catch prey. If we, humans, weren't land vertebrates with tongues perhaps we would see that the tongue is a type of tentacle.
Tentacles in amphibians
Tentacles in mammals
The star-nosed mole, Condylura cristata, possesses nasal tentacles which are mobile and extremely sensitive, helping the animal to find its way about the burrow and detect prey.
Tentacles in plants
On a sundew plant, they are hairlike projections with a drop of nectar-like glue which attract insects. When an insect is captured, the tentacles bend inward and the leaf rolls together as shown in the picture. The tentacles then secrete digestive enzymes to dissolve and engulf the insect.
Exobiology and science fiction
Tentacles have evolved independently many times in Earth. They clearly help animals and even plants to survive and reproduce. Exbiologists and hard science fiction writers speculate that 'alien life may have tentacles. See The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun,