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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987