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 Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress
22.02.2019 | Lobachevsky University

nachricht How the intestinal fungus Candida albicans shapes our immune system
22.02.2019 | Exzellenzcluster Präzisionsmedizin für chronische Entzündungserkrankungen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: (Re)solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.

In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

JILA researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs

22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress

22.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>