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No. 26: Mar-Apr 1983

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Lizardless Thrashing Tails

It is common knowledge that many lizards lose their tails when attacked by a predator. In some lizard species, the released tail is a live thing, thrashing violently, and deluding the predator into thinking he has caught the real animal. Predators, even if not completely fooled by the struggling tail, are diverted into subduing it, giving the lizard time to escape. The detached tails contain their own autonomous nervous system and energy supply.

(Dial, Benjamin E., and Fitzpatrick, Lloyd C.; "Lizard Tail Autonomy,..." Science, 219:391, 1983.)

Comment. Once again we have a biological system requiring several simultaneous evolutionary developments to be successful. Such complex biological evolution in response to predator-prey feedback is indeed marvelous.

From Science Frontiers #26, MAR-APR 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss