As some people lose their heads in the face of stress, many lizards can lose their tails in dangerous situations. If lizards are threatened by attackers, they simply throw it off. The tail continues to move through active nerves and muscles for up to 20 minutes, diverting the enemy from its actual prey. In the meantime, the lizard can escape and get to safety.
But how does throwing off exactly?
The animals have so-called predetermined breaking points in the caudal vertebrae. At these fractures the connective and muscle tissue is weaker. Thus, the animal can get rid of a short, strong contraction of the circular muscles of his tail. The break points are down from the sixth vortex. The lizard can thereby cut off the tail in any length. The tail grows again, because the reptile needs it as an energy store and to get around. What sounds like an ingenious trick of nature, but also has its disadvantages.
The tail of the lizards is usually colorful and conspicuous. However, the regrowing piece is not enough for this splendor. Thus, especially the male lizard must take the dark side into account. Lesser social status and mating disadvantages arise for the male. In contrast to the "original", the regrown tail only has an unstructured cartilage rod inside, and it no longer has any predetermined breaking points. In case of danger, the lizard can only tail off the tail at higher vertebrae.
In addition, the animal is less mobile in the regeneration phase of the tail, so it runs the risk of falling victim to enemies.