Imagine yourself in the grips of a deadly predator. You see your life flash before your eyes: this looks like the end of the road. But wait! With a quick yank, your limb pops off in the predator's mouth and you make a break for freedom. You've escaped certain death through a grisly trade.
If you manage to sit through the survival drama 127 hours — based on the true story of hiker Aron Ralston, who amputates his own arm to free himself from a fallen boulder —then you might have asked yourself: how far would I go to escape a lethal situation?
As it turns out, this extreme tactic of self-amputation is one that has evolved many times across the animal kingdom. Our team of evolutionary ecology researchers studies how diverse and functional traits like this evolve in nature.