New Species of Gecko Discovered

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New species of gecko discovered – with massive, tear-away scales.  – By Tom Bawden first published Tuesday February 7th 2017 iNews

Scientists have discovered a new species of gecko which has come up with the ultimate defence against tough predators – removable scales .  The species, named Geckolepis megalepis, has the largest scales of any gecko which can be torn away easily. This leaves their predator with a mouthful of scales while they are free to escape.  Like the perforations on a cardboard package, the geckos’ scales are attached to its body by a relatively narrow region with a pre-formed splitting zone within the skin itself.

Rapid regrowth

The species is able to jettison selected scales at the slightest touch and they can grow back, scar-free, in just a few weeks. This remarkable regrowth is a medical feat which may have implications for humans, adding to discoveries relating to salamander limbs and lizard tails, which are also good a rejuvenating themselves. “What’s really remarkable is that these scales – which are really dense and may even be bony – and the skin beneath them tear away with such ease and can be regenerated quickly and without a scar,” said the study’s lead author Mark Scherz, of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

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When grasped by a predator, fish-scale geckos lose not just their scales but also the skin underneath. This bizarre behavior is apparently very important in helping them escape.(CREDIT: F. Glaw) .  Although some other fish-scale geckos are able to lose their skin, they can only do so when they are grasped really firmly by which point it can often be too late to escape. It also takes other gecko species much longer to grow back their scales.

The research, published in the journal Peer J, was made considerably harder by the geckos tearaway scales, the scientists said. This meant the researchers had to lure them into plastic bags to avoid touching them and trigger the loss of most of their skin. They believe that the larger scales tear more easily than the smaller scales of other fish geckos because they have a greater surface area relative to the area of attachment.

The new species was discovered in the Tsingy cave formations of northern Madagascar.

Geckolepis megalepis is Latin for “very large scales”.

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