Some creatures go to great lengths to escape their predators, whether it’s releasing a slimy substance or morphing into the appearance of its surroundings. But a newly discovered species of gecko does the unthinkable. Instead of simply blending into its environment to escape predators, this little lizard goes completely naked.
Described in the journal PeerJ, when the newly found Geckolepis megalepis is stressed out or under attack, the lizard sheds its giant fish-like scales. It then runs away in its birthday suit, leaving its predator confused with a mouth full of scales and no actual gecko.
“What’s really remarkable is that these scales, which are really dense and may even be bony, and must be quite energetically costly to produce, tear away with such ease, and can be regenerated quickly and without a scar,” said lead study author Mark Scherz.
The gecko is so speedy and sheds its scales so quickly, in fact, that scientists find it difficult to catch it. So, they’ve gotten a bit crafty and leave baited plastic bags around with hopes that the lizards will be lured inside.
“You have to think a bit outside the box with Geckolepis,” said Scherz. “They’re a nightmare to identify.”
A 2013 genetic analysis suggests there may be as many as 10 species of fish-scale geckos, but so far, only five (including this one) have been discovered.