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Not Just Lizards, Researchers Discover Young Alligators Can Also Regrow Portion of Tails

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Scientists attached with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Arizona State University have discovered that young alligators can partially grow back their lost tails. A proper understanding of the regeneration process might help researchers in finding new ways to treat arthritis and help in injuries.

What do alligators and lizards have in common? Apart from the fact that both are broadly sorted under the reptile category, a new research has suggested that young gators are able to regrow their tails up to 18 percent of their total body length, a feat quite similar to their not-so dangerous relative.

Scientists attached with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Arizona State University have discovered that young alligators can partially grow back their lost tails.

A study that was published in the journal Scientific Reports earlier this month tried to answer a few questions regarding this new-found information on these fascinating reptiles and researchers have tried to piece together a mix of images and anatomical study into these reptiles that has given them an idea of how exactly they are able to grow back a significant portion of their tails.

The report points out that “the regrowth process is considered to be slow, occurring over the span of many months. Reports of crocodilian tail regrowth also describe the outward appearance of the regrown tail as different from the original tail."

Lead author of the study Cindy Xu, who is a postdoctorate studying tendon regeneration at Massachusetts General Hospital also pointed out that the interesting factor about the regeneration is that the regrown tail has shown signs of healing along with regrowth.

She also mentioned that the tail’s inner structure is built with scar-like connected tissues and not muscles. The report says that using anatomical and histological data, they carried out a comparative analysis of the original and regrown tail segment tissues located near the junction site in the American alligator.

Researchers are now finding themselves surrounded by several other questions related to evolution of birds and other reptiles from the Jurassic era. As broad descendants of dinosaurs, scientists now have been posed with questions surrounding the regrowing capability of the alligators, something which seems to be lost for the birds.

Apart from getting a better insight into the anatomical structures of the crocodilia, scientists are also hopeful of finding much more out of it. A proper understanding of the regeneration process might help researchers in finding new ways to treat arthritis and help in injuries.

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