MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Autotomy and regeneration in lizards. At some time in its life this Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) was caught by its tail. To escape, the lizard detached a part of the tail, an ability called autotomy, or self amputation. The tail started to wriggle violently and this, hopefully, distracted the predator. Over a period of several weeks the tail may be regenerated - not with a bony skeleton but a single piece of cartilage. The new scales usually look different in colour and shape too. The regenerated tail is often shorter. Some species can regenerated several times.
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