Tail regeneration in the lizards Anguis fragilis and Lacerta dugesii

Authors


Abstract

Rates of tail regeneration in the Madeira wall lizard (Lacerta dugesii) and the slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) were studied.

L. dugesii regenerates very rapidly, the new tail sometimes attaining a maximum rate of growth of 2'6 mm a day during the fifth week after autotomy. By the twelfth week 90% of the original tail length has been replaced. Average regeneration rates of samples of lizards were reduced after repeated autotomies, but our investigation of this problem was probably complicated by another factor, the amount of tail lost, and is inconclusive.

The tip of the regenerate grows more rapidly than the rest; no elongation occurs at its cranial aspect.

Anguis, even when kept at 27°C, regenerates its tail very slowly, the best performance observed being a new tail of 5 mm after 14 weeks. The longest natural regenerate seen (16 mm) may have taken several years to produce in the wild.

The histological features of regeneration in Anguis are basically similar to those in other lizards. The new osteoderms are formed entirely in the subepidermal tissues but have a regular relationship with the scales. Some nerve fibres are regenerated with the ependymal tube.

The scales on the lizard's regenerating tail develop in a different manner from those in the lizard embryo and show suggestive resemblances to mammalian hairs.

Ancillary