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New Gecko Species Literally Jumps Out of Its Own Skin to Escape Predators -- How?

Feb 09, 2017 12:55 PM EST
Gecko Lizard
In a paper published in the journal PeerJ, researchers revealed how a newly-discovered gecko is able to avoid danger by literally wriggling out of its own skin.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Talk about a slippery getaway! Surviving in the wild is tricky, but a newly discovered gecko found an ingenious trick to slip out of a predator's grasp. In a paper published in the journal PeerJ, researchers revealed how this fish-scale gecko is able to avoid danger by literally wriggling out of its own skin.

According to a report from New York Times, the gecko known as the Geckolepis megalepis sheds its scales and skin like a jacket when confronted with a threat. The experience is not painful for the animal who regenerates a full set of scales within a few weeks after. New sales come with a different pattern.

Seeing the phenomenon or the strange creature can be very disarming with the gecko's large scales that can be ripped away to reveal translucent pink flesh. It's spine and blood vessels are visible through the tissue.

"It looks like a fish until you grab it, and then it looks like a naked chicken breast," Mark D. Scherz, a doctoral candidate at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, said. "It's bizarre, it's really surprising, and it's quite uncomfortable when you see them."

Another notable trait of this new species is its scales, which is the largest of any known fish-scale gecko. Some of the scales take up around 8 percent of its body. Despite its size, these oversized scales act more like a decoy for the gecko's actual defense. In fact, they're only loosely attached to the body along pre-defined "tear zones" in the skin, a report from Live Science said.

"You would think they are somehow protective but really they are a decoy there for blocking the teeth or claws of whatever wants to eat them," Scherz explained. "They get stuck in those jaws or claws and allow the gecko to escape naked and alive."

Members of the Geckolepis genus are typically difficult to catch, because of their skill in evading capture. This new gecko from northern Madagascar is actually the first time one has been identified in the last 75 years.

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