This Fish-Scale Gecko Gets Naked For Self-Defense

Full disclosure: this topic is on the gnarlier side of science. But if you're able to stomach the image below of a naked fish-scale gecko, the research is pretty awesome. When faced with a predator (or scientist), this newly-defined gecko species can easily shed its unusually large scales. Get ready!

Related: Geckos Inspire Experimental Adhesive

Slippery Lil' Reptiles

Deep within Madagascar's Ankara National Park, you might spot a predator getting a mouthful of scales when it was really hoping to eat a reptile of the gecko variety—the Geckolepis megalepis. Scientists have long attempted to research these elusive creatures, but at just the hint of an onlooker, they ditch their skin and scat... making studying them especially hard.

Related: Horned Lizards Will Shoot You With Blood

But, finally, a February 2017 study published in the journal PeerJ did it! So what's up with these scaly guys? By taking CT scans of a fish-scale gecko's skeleton, leading author Mark Scherz and his colleagues definitively determined that they are their own species of gecko.

Related: Walking On Water? No Problem For The Jesus Lizard

(A) and (B) are geckos pre-shedding; (C) is a specimen photographed after ditching its scales loss


The gecko species can ditch its skin quickly, but they grow it back quickly too — in just a few weeks, according to the study. And even though shedding the skin is speedy, it's actually super traumatic. Once the scales are off, only raw and unprotected flesh remain. Aaron Bauer, a gecko expert at Villanova University, put this in human terms for Popular Science: "If this were a mammal you'd have huge immunological problems. You could think of it as if you had serious burns over most of your body." Researchers hope to gather enough research on the fish-scale geckos that we may one day use their findings to replicate such skin re-growth in humans.

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Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Geckos And Lizards

Horned Lizards Will Shoot You With Blood

Meet one of the world's weirdest lizards.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The known aliases of the horned lizard include the horned frog and the horny toad, but it's not an amphibian. 00:13

  2. Horned lizards do not have hunting strategies; they simply lap up harvester ants. 00:39

  3. The self-defense mechanism of the horned lizard is to shoot blood from its eyes. 01:11

Written by Curiosity Staff February 17, 2017

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