MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Autotomy and regeneration in lizards. At some time in its life the wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) on the left 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 to, hopefully, distracte the predator. Over a period of several weeks the tail 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 and less tapering (compare with lizard at right). Some species can regenerate several times.
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