Flips, Flops And Cartwheels: Gecko Tail Has A Mind Of Its Own, Scientists Discover

By | September 9, 2009

Geckos and other lizards have long been known for their incredible ability to shed their tails as a decoy for predators, but little is known about the movements and what controls the tail once it separates from the lizard’s body.

Anthony Russell of the University of Calgary and Tim Higham of Clemson University in South Carolina are closer to solving this mystery as outlined in a paper they co-authored published in the journal Biology Letters.

The scientists demonstrate that tails exhibit not only rhythmic but also complex movements, including flips, jumps and lunges, after the tails are shed. Although one previous study has looked at movement of the tail after it is severed, no study up to this point has quantified movement patterns of the tail by examining the relationship between such patterns and muscular activity.

Anthony Russell of the University of Calgary and Tim Higham of Clemson University in South Carolina are closer to solving this mystery as outlined in a paper they co-authored published in the journal Biology Letters.

The scientists demonstrate that tails exhibit not only rhythmic but also complex movements, including flips, jumps and lunges, after the tails are shed. Although one previous study has looked at movement of the tail after it is severed, no study up to this point has quantified movement patterns of the tail by examining the relationship between such patterns and muscular activity

… “An intriguing, and as yet unanswered, question is what is the source of the stimulus is that initiates complex movements in the shed tails of leopard geckos,” says Higham. “The most plausible explanation is that the tail relies on sensory feedback from the environment. Sensors on its surface may tell it to jump, pivot or travel in a certain direction.”

via Flips, Flops And Cartwheels: Gecko Tail Has A Mind Of Its Own, Scientists Discover.

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