Scientists Say Regenerated Lizard Tails Are Different Than Original Lizard Tails

Posted on October 9, 2012

Scientists from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona examined the anatomical and microscopic make-up of regenerated lizard tails and discovered that the new tails are quite different from the original tails. The findings were published in two articles - here and here - in a special October edition of the journal, The Anatomical Record.

Researchers studied the regenerated tails of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which can lose its tail to escape from a predator and then grow a new one. A green anole lizard with a regenerated tail (the brown region of the tail) is pictured above. The researchers found the new tail had a single, long tube of cartilage rather than vertebrae, as in the original. Long muscles span the length of the regenerated tail compared to shorter muscle fibers found in the original.

Rebecca Fisher, an associate professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences and at the UA College of Medicine - Phoenix, said in a release, "The regenerated lizard tail is not perfect replica. There are key anatomical differences including the presence of a cartilaginous rod and elongated muscle fibers spanning the length of the regenerated tail. These differences suggest that the regenerated tail is less flexible, as neither the cartilage tube nor the long muscle fibers would be capable of the fine movements of the original tail, with its interlocking vertebrae and short muscle fibers. The regrown tail is not simply a copy of the original, but instead is a replacement that restores some function."

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