You have probably all heard the impressive story that lizards can regenerate their tail if they lose it. However, it turned out that they are not the only reptiles that can perform this magical biological “trick”. Scientists have discovered that young American alligators have the ability to partially restore a lost tail.
Biologists at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) noticed alligators looking as if they were growing out of a lost tail, but the issue was still unexplored and many unanswered questions remained around it. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports this month answers some of the above questions about what processes take place in an alligator after losing a tail and confirms that they have an excellent regeneration ability.
Through a combination of anatomical studies and imaging, scientists have determined how the regeneration process takes place:
This discovery raises some questions that in the distant past led to the ancestral dinosaurs of alligators and birds.
“Our finding that alligators were able to maintain the cellular mechanism needed for tail regeneration is quite interesting because birds did not find this feature. Therefore, the main question now is at what stage of evolution did they lose this ability,” the study said. Co-author, Kenro Cusum, from Arizona State University.