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Raunchy gecko gets naked to escape predators

A newly discovered species of gecko has a special way of getting out of trouble.

A study published yesterday in PeerJ reveals that the little fella slips right out of his scales when in danger.

The gecko is named Geckolepis megalepis and it lives in the forests of Madagascar’s Ankara Reserve.

Part of a species of fish-scale geckos, Geckolepis megalepis has large scales that are thinly attached and have a preformed splitting region within the skin. Like other lizards, which have the ability to grow back tails, it can grow its scales back in a few weeks. No drama.

If a predator tries to grab the ingenious reptile, it quickly sheds, leaving the attacker with nothing but a mouthful of scales. “That’ll teach ya for trying to eat me”, it probably adds, as it dashes away in its birthday suit.

Mark D. Sherz, lead author of the new study, said:

What’s really remarkable though is that these scales – which are really dense and may even be bony, and must be quite energetically costly to produce – and the skin beneath them tear away with such ease, and can be regenerated quickly and without a scar.

The Verge reports that similar geckos were first discovered in the 1800s and that they were wrapped in cotton to prevent the loss of scales. Scientists don’t bother with that anymore. They simply lure the geckos into a bag.

The disappearing scales were a problem for researchers, because it meant that scientists have had trouble identifying different species of fish-scale gecko. However, thanks to DNA sampling a micro-CT scanning we now know that there are 12 different species, including Geckolepis megalepis. Micro-CT scanning is essentially a 3D X-ray and it useful as it allows researchers to examine the skeletons of animals without dissecting them.

Geckolepis megalepis isn’t the only creature to develop a unique defence mechanism.

The name says it all with Malaysian exploding ants. These strange insects have large glands full of poison in their bodies. When they sense a threat, their heads explode toxin onto their enemies.

Malaysian Exploding Ant

Boom.

Similar is the Bombardier Beetle. This beetle sprays boing hot anal fluids on anything that messes with it.

Perhaps best of all is another reptile, the Texas Horned Lizard. This thing is metal AF. When threatened, it sprays the attacker with blood from its eyes.

Mother nature, you freaky.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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