Friday 10 February 2017

Fish-scale Gecko

Image: Arthur Anker
Look at those scales! It's not a mere suit of armour, it's a suit of shields!

Fish-scale Geckos make up a tiny genus called Geckolepis, which means 'gecko scale.' It contains just five species, all found in various parts of Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands.

Image: Michael Sale
They live up in the trees, where they come out at night to munch on insects.

Needless to say, both their common and scientific names come from those impressively big scales of theirs.

Image: Frank Glaw
The newly discovered Large-scaled Fish-scale Gecko has the biggest, thickest scales of them all. That's why it's called G. megalepis, after those mega-scales. You'd think that maybe they'd use them as a defence against predators. Maybe they curl up into an impenetrable ball impervious to attack by tooth, claw and beak?

Not so much. They do use it for defence, but... You know all those lizards who can lose their tail when they get attacked? Fish-scale Lizards take that same ethic to new and disturbing lengths.

Image: Frank Glaw
They lose their skin. Not just their scales but their skin. It all tears off along specific splitting zones, so it's all part of the plan but man, some plan! It grows back in time but until then, they're not just as naked as a plucked chicken, they're as naked as a chicken fillet.

Far from being even more powerful as armour, it seems that the mega-scales of G. megalepis fall off even more readily than that of other species. The scales also grow back more quickly, though it still takes several weeks.

It's a drastic solution to the difficulties of life, but I suppose if you can take your skin out of the game for a while, it's worth a try.


Mark Scherz said...

Hi Joseph, I would like to request that you provide sources for the images in this post. The first is by Arthur Anker. The last two are by Frank Glaw. Copyright remains with both of them.

Joseph JG said...

Whoops! Thanks, Mark!