Morphology of an autotomy fracture plane explains some of the variation in the latency to autotomize
A gecko dropping its tail to escape predation beautifully illustrates the anti-predatory benefits associated with autotomy, i.e., the self-induced loss of a limb. The amount of time it takes an organism to drop its autotomizable limb can dramatically vary from one individual to the next, and the factors that are responsible for this variation remain unclear. Here, we investigated whether the size of the auototomy fracture plane, a morphological character, could explain variation in the latency to autotomize. We found that individuals with larger fracture planes took longer to autotomize when we statistically controlled for an individual’s body size and sex. These results support previous assumptions about the relationship between fracture plane size and latency to autotomize. Namely, large individuals, with relatively small autotomy fracture planes, can drop their autotomizable limbs quickly, which likely improves their success in using this anti-predatory tactic.
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