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Lizard Tails May Grow Back, but They’re Not the Same Appendage

A green gecko 

Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images.

It’s never quite the same after that first one, is it?

Researchers have found that the regenerated tail of a lizard is dramatically different from its original equipment. Some lizards, like the green anole lizard observed in the study, can lose their tails to escape capture by a predator. The tail that grows back, however, is composed of a rod made of cartilage and long muscle fibers that stretch the length of the regrown appendage, not the original design of small bones and short muscles. The teams’ findings also suggest nerves from the original tail’s stump grow back into the new tail. Although it doesn’t have the function of the original, Tail 2.0 is nonetheless the result of genetic skills humans would like to learn more about—especially if scientists could one day be able to use them to treat spinal cord injuries and diseases like arthritis.

So it looks as if this may not be the end of tail.