Fish-scale gecko escapes predators’ grip by shedding scales and skin

Fish-scale gecko escapes predators’ grip by shedding scales and skin

Researchers have discovered a new type of gecko, an evasive little lizard that can escape predators’ grip by shedding its scales as well as skin.

The new species, dubbed Geckolepis megalepis, has the biggest scales of any fish-scale gecko, some of which measure nearly 8 per cent of its total body length. A team of researchers, led by Mark D. Scherz of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, discovered it northern Madagascar’s limestone karst.

They found that Geckolepis megalepis rips off its scales and skin so that it could slip away unscathed. The torn-away scales reveal the creature’s pink flesh. The researchers called it ‘bizarre’ and ‘surprising’ way to escape predators.

Sharing their findings, Scherz said, “It looks like a fish until you grab it, and then it looks like a naked chicken breast. The torn-away scales reveal the gecko’s pink flesh, and through its translucent tissue you can see its spine and blood vessels. It’s bizarre, it’s really surprising, and it’s quite uncomfortable when you see them.”

However, the gruesome getaway does not hurt the creature because it loses its scales and skin with great ease and regenerates them in full within a few weeks.

The discovery of the new species of fish-scale gecko was detailed in the Tuesday (Feb. 7th) edition of the journal PeerJ.

A report published by Live Science added, "Whereas most geckos have small scales that lie flat against their bodies, fish-scale geckos have large, overlapping scales that are only partly attached to their skin. But what is really unusual about this genus of geckos is the layer of skin beneath those scales, which tears away easily and grows back quickly."

"Their skin has this pre-formed zone for shearing and an unusually fast regeneration cycle. Generally, what we do is lure the geckos into a container or plastic bag, so that we have the minimum possible contact with them. It is possible to catch them by hand without losing scales, but it takes a lot of practice and is not always successful," Scherz informed.

As per CS Monitor report, "Scherz and his colleagues actually identified G. megalepis as a new species by studying its bone structure. Because the geckos are so difficult to study alive and with all their scales on their bodies, the team micro CT scanned preserved museum specimens."