Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Self-amputation: Gecko's tail is its insurance policy

11.09.2009
Scientists from Clemson University and the University of Calgary have found that the self-severed tail of some geckos shows a complex pattern of repeating movements to distract the attacker. The research brings to light data about animal nervous systems, information that may lead to new insights into spinal injury in humans.

Evolutionary biologists Timothy Higham of Clemson and Anthony Russell of Calgary presented their findings in "biology letters" published online Sept. 9th. Their article is titled, "Flip, flop and fly: modulated motor control and highly variable movement patterns of autotomized gecko tails." The Web site is http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/firstcite

"Autotomy is the process by which an appendage is voluntarily shed by animal. A number of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and many invertebrates developed the defense mechanism over time," said Higham. "Some geckos' severed tails can move repeatedly, allowing the gecko to escape and grow a replacement. It's like a gecko's personal injury insurance policy."

Higham and Russell explored how the tail continues to function, using motion to entice a predator while the gecko escapes.

The research shows that a severed – autotomized – tail of leopard gecko makes four to eight rhythmic moves per second with one or two complex movements – dramatic flips or lunges – during the first 50 seconds of its separation.

How does the tail do it? The scientists theorize that central pattern generators in the tail control the actions. Central pattern generators are made up of a network of nerve cells that enable repeatable pattern of behavior, such as chewing, walking, flying.

The gecko study adds to the evidence that central pattern generator networks can function without being linked to a brain or central nervous system. The findings present the prospect that human central pattern generators could play a role in restoring motion to people with spinal injuries.

"The autotomized gecko tail may be an excellent model for understanding the spontaneous activity that is sometimes observed following partial and complete spinal cord injury," conclude Higham and Russell.

Timothy E. Higham | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.clemson.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>