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FLORA AND FAUNA
Lizard tails detach at a biological 'dotted line'
by Staff Writers
Aarhus, Denmark (SPX) Dec 24, 2012


Wedge-shaped extensions (cranial margins of individual tail muscles) projecting from the proximal end of the released tail stump demonstrate the presence of ''mushroom-shaped'' structures at the termini of the muscle fibers after autotomy. These structures are present on all sides of the extensions except on the outer part. Credit: Sanggaard KW, Danielsen CC, Wogensen L, Vinding MS, Rydtoft LM, et al. (2012) Unique Structural Features Facilitate Lizard Tail Autotomy. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51803. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051803.

Like sheets of paper marked with perforated lines, gecko tails have unique structural marks that help them sever their tails to make a quick getaway.

Though voluntarily shedding a body part in this manner is a well-known phenomenon, research published in the open access journal PLOS ONE reveals aspects of the process that may have applications for structural engineers making similar, quickly detachable structures.

Jan Enghild and colleagues from Aarhus University, Denmark, used advanced bio-imaging techniques to discover that a Tokay gecko sheds its tail along pre-formed "score lines" in specific regions of the tail, which is held together by adhesive forces at these lines.

The process of separation is independent of protein-cleaving enzymes, and microstructures at the ends of muscle fibers are most likely involved in the release of the tail.

Enghild adds, "Our work has been driven by a curiosity to understand how tail autotomy is facilitated among lizards. In the present work we use a combination of advanced protein- and high-resolution imaging- techniques to address the mechanism involved in the process."

Sanggaard KW, Danielsen CC, Wogensen L, Vinding MS, Rydtoft LM, et al. (2012) Unique Structural Features Facilitate Lizard Tail Autotomy. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51803. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051803

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FLORA AND FAUNA
Black Piranha, Megapiranha Have Most Powerful Bites of Fish Living or Extinct
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 24, 2012
The black piranha and the extinct giant piranha, or megapiranha, have the most powerful bites of carnivorous fishes, living or extinct, once body size is taken into account, finds researchers in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports. The research paper, Mega-Bites: Extreme jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas, highlights the piranhas' specialized jaw morphology, which allows them ... read more


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