How the Scorpion Lost Its Tail (And Its Anus)

Many lizards can break off their tails when they’re in danger. Many spiders can do the same to their legs. This is called autotomy. The body parts have in-built lines of weakness that can easily tear, and the wounds tend to rapidly close and heal. Usually, the limbs grow back. The animal temporarily loses a bit of itself, which is better than losing its life.

But these trade-offs aren’t always so straightforward.

Camilo Mattoni from the National University of Cordoba in Argentina has discovered that a group of rare South American scorpions—the Ananteris genus—can also break off their tails. He has seen six species do so after he ...

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