Gecko's tail an energy powerhouse, say scientists

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Sydney, November 21 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have determined that a gecko's tail is an energy powerhouse, as the reptiles have a slower getaway after dropping their tail to fee a predator, presumably running out of steam.

According to a report by ABC News, the research was conducted by scientists from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University in Australia.

Co-author Dr Trish Fleming from the University said that caudal autotomy, or the ability to shed the tail in response to attack, is a major predator escape mechanism in species within 13 of the 20 lizard families.

The loss of the tail allows the lizard to break away from a predator that has seized it by the tail.

"The tail may then also act as a distraction through spontaneous writhing or wriggling movements, engaging the predator's attention while the lizard flees," Fleming said.

"Contrary to our expectations, tailless geckos overall expended less effort in escape running, moving both slower and for a shorter distance, compared with when they were intact," she said.

For the study, the tiny geckos, which are just a few centimetres long and weigh less than one gram on average, were made to run along a one metre glass tube with a wax floor while their carbon dioxide production, speed and distance travelled were measured.ach gecko was trialled with its tail intact. The researchers then induced the lizards to lose their tail by holding it with a pair of tweezers.

Two days later, the geckos were put through the running trial again.

According to Fleming, initially, the tailless geckos were slightly faster, but not by a statistically significant amount.

However, over a distance of about 10 metres, the tailless geckos were both slower and the distance covered was reduced, although the time they ran for remained the same.

"We found a 19 percent reduction in the distance ran for our tailless geckos compared with when intact," said Fleming.

She said that the results show the geckos use the fat stored in their tails, which make up about 8.7 percent of body mass, as "fuel for running".

Fleming said that without the tails, the geckos may have less fatty acids in the bloodstream to sustain locomotion.

She said that reduced stamina suggests that lack of energy reserves stored in the tail may play a signi?cant role in the locomotory energetics of these animals. (ANI)

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