New Fish-Scale Gecko Species Escape Predators By Leaving Skin

Posted: Feb 8 2017, 9:15am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
New Fish-Scale Gecko Species Escape Predators by Leaving Skin
The new fish-scale gecko, Geckolepis megalepis, has the largest body scales of all geckos. This nocturnal lizard was discovered in the 'tsingy' karst formations in northern Madagascar. Credit: F. Glaw
  • A new species of gecko discovered that have large scales that tear away with ease at time of danger

A novel species of gecko with giant scales has an extraordinary escape mechanism. It detaches its outer scales and ends up literally wriggling out of its skin.

We have all heard of the lizard’s tail which it leaves detached when trying to escape its predators. Yet did you know that there is a particular type of gecko that can even detach its scales so that it slides out from its skin like a raw piece of chicken.

These fish-scale geckos have been termed Geckolepis. They leave their predators with their jaws full of scales and thus are masters at the fine art of escapism.

A novel species among these geckos termed Geckolepis megalepis actually possesses the largest set of scales among its kind. The skin of this gecko is adapted to be torn away leaving behind raw flesh that is not a pretty sight at all.

What lengths some animals will go to in order to escape from their predators! The scales are only attached loosely to the skin of this gecko and it already has points on its skin where the “splitting off” action can take place with ease.

Although other gecko species are able to detach themselves via their scales if gripped with force, this species can do it at a moment’s notice and with the slightest tactile pressure.

These geckos also take merely a few weeks to grow back their scales. The amazing thing is that these geckos do not have any scars to show where their scales got detached from their skin.

It is a fantastic display of subterfuge. It is this art of escapism that has made these geckos hard to study. The scientists hardly get a chance to hold onto them long enough to observe them at close quarters.

Huge amounts of cotton wool was used in the past to catch them. This was so that they would not lose virtually all of their skin.

Today, the scientists catch them by cajoling them into polymer pouches. Yet once they are inside the bags, it is still quite a challenge to study them and describe their characteristics.

Knowledge and know-how regarding these geckos is still in its nascent stages. For one thing, there are actually over a dozen varieties of these geckos and not the three or four that scientists had thought existed in previous times.

The researchers still have a long road ahead as far as studying these geckos is concerned.

The new species, Geckolepis megalepis, which was described by researchers from the US, Germany, and Columbia in a paper published on Feb. 7 in the open access journal PeerJ.

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