Rotavirus-cell binding is the essential first step in rotavirus infection. This binding is a major determinant of rotavirus tropism, as host cell invasion is necessary to initiate infection. Initial rotavirus-cell interactions are mediated by carbohydrate-recognizing domain VP8∗ of the rotavirus capsid spike protein VP4. Here, we report the first observation of significant structural rearrangement of VP8∗ from human and animal rotavirus strains upon glycan receptor binding. The structural adaptability of rotavirus VP8∗ delivers important insights into how human and animal rotaviruses utilize the wider range of cellular glycans identified as VP8∗ binding partners. Furthermore, our studies on rotaviruses with atypical genetic makeup provide information expected to be critical for understanding the mechanisms of animal rotavirus gene emergence in humans and support implementation of epidemiologic surveillance of animal reservoirs as well as future vaccination schemes.