Many lizards have the ability to leave their tails behind when they feel that they’re in life-threatening danger. If you’ve ever grabbed a gecko by the tail because it got into your house somehow, and were surprised when the tail simply broke off and the gecko kept running away while the tail continued squirming, then you’ve experienced this concept in real life.
The process of shedding the tail won’t necessarily hurt the lizard, because it will regenerate eventually, but sometimes when regenerating tails, lizards may generate two or three tails at one time instead of the typical single tail. It’s not every day that you see a lizard that has regrown multiple tails at one time, but despite the uncommon oddity, it does happen.
But for the first time in the recorded history of lizards, a Salvator Merianae, also known as an Argentine black and white tegu, has been discovered in Argentina with having regenerated six tails at one time, which is a fascinatingly significant number of regenerated tails on one lizard at one time.
You can see the six tails in the X-Ray image below:
Typically, when regenerating a tail, the lizard’s body will regenerate a single stump that slowly grows into the same size tail they once had, but as with all things in nature, some freak things can occur.
This rare case of hexafurcation (six separate forks in the lizard’s tail) is significant because as noted by Nicolás Pelegrin and Suelem Muniz Leão of the Institute of Animal Diversity and Ecology in Córdoba, Argentina, this number of regrown tails on a single lizard is the highest ever recorded.
The tail is used by many smaller animals, including lizards, to help the animal balance better, especially when scaling walls or climbing otherwise unstable structures, such as plant stems and leaves. Since these are typically things that lizards do quite often, it makes perfect sence whey they’re adapted to grow them back.
This particular case of having grown six different tail stubs on a single tail may not be as beneficial to the balancing concept of the lizard, but it is an interesting result of nature at work.
This particular tegu has sustained some nasty injuries when it lost its original tail. A report put together by Pelegrin and Leão says that the lizard showed signs of injury from a sharp object that sliced through the lizard’s tail tissues.
Fortunately, the mutant tegu is now in good care at a local Zoo.
Source: New Scientist