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Kamis, 09 April 2009

Why Lizards Shed Their Tail

Aegean wall lizardCredit: Johannes Foufopoulos

Did you know that some lizards have the ability to quickly shed their tail when under attack from a predator? Researchers had assumed that predator-prey relationships were a key factor in determining this ability in lizards. A deeper look however has given insight into why some lizards have this ability while others don't. The answer lies in the type of predator, specifically those that kill their prey with venom.

In a study of lizards in Greece and the Aegean islands, researchers noticed that lizards with the quick tail-shedding ability were located in areas that were also populated by vipers. This ability is advantageous. If the lizard is bitten on its tail, it can shed the tail before the deadly venom is able to reach any vital organs. The lizard can then regrow its tail over time. Lizards that are located in areas where venomous snakes are not around do not have this same ability to quickly shed their tails.

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