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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-III :
  • 19 July, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Autotomy

Autotomy

How does a lizard lose its tail?

  • Certain animals voluntarily shed a body part in response to attempted predation.
  • Lizards losing their tails when they are pulled by a predator is well known. This self-amputation is called autotomy.
  • The severed tail continues to wiggle for about 30 minutes.
  • Studies have shown that the severed tail follows an elaborate repetitive and diverse motion, which includes flips up to 3 cm in height. The wiggly motion very often distracts the attention of the predator, thus enabling the lizard to escape.

How does a lizard lose its tail?

  • The tail autotomy occurs at preformed horizontal fracture planes.
  • In the case of tail autotomy within the vertebra, the tail gets fractured or split at a distinct preformed area of weakness.
  • Studies have shown that lizards aid the process of autotomy by “contracting muscles around the fracture planes”.
  • The muscle contractions are supposed to “facilitate splitting of the skin and muscles to complete the release of the tail”.
  • According to their findings published in December 2012 in the journal PLOS ONE, the mechanism of tail autotomy in Tokay gecko is determined by pre-formed ‘dotted lines’ in the fracture planes, which are maintained by adhesion and microstructures seen at the terminal end of the muscle fibres also likely play a role in releasing the tail.

Source: TH


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