Re-grown lizard tails are cheap knock-offs of the original

A new study suggests that the "miracle" of re-growing a lost tail is less awesome than it might first appear. Sure, growing a new tail is cool and all. But the new tails have completely different anatomy — a tube of cartilage in place of vertebra, for instance — and are likely less flexible than the original model. (Via Brian Switek)


  1. I don’t know, even regrowing a portion of a limb, even if it was not as flexible as the original and had cartilage instead of bone would seem miles ahead of any artificial limbs we can create today.

  2. I thought bone developed from a cartilage “skeleton”. (see e.g. endochondral ossification). Maybe these regrown lizard tails were examined before bone conversion took place. Or maybe the lizards have evolved to skip bone conversion as being wasteful.

    None the less this regeneration is probably the same process used by salamanders and some fish which does eventually regenerate limb bones so it is rather stupid to conclude that studying lizard tail regeneration is inapplicable to devising some scheme for human regeneration.

  3. Huh.  I’m surprised this is not old news.  My parents always told me not to make lizards drop their tails for fun because they knew they couldn’t fully grow them back.

    1. Same here. I live in western Washington and we don’t have many lizards, but with the only specie I found as a kid you could definitely tell which lizards had regrown their tails. They were a different color and have larger scales than the rest of the animal’s body, and did look much stiffer.

      1. Larger and stiffer, eh? To heck with people who have lost arms and legs, now I’m actually seeing some real reason for us to turn this biological phenomenon into deployable technology!

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