|A & B: Adults with scales intact C: Adult without scales|
Scherz, Daza, Köhler, Vences & Glaw, 2017
Geckolepis megalepis is a species of gecko found in the limestone karst formations of northern Madagascar. It is the first addition to the Geckolepis genus since 1942. This species of gecko has the largest scales of any known gecko and can detach them as a defence mechanism when a predator attacks, leaving the predator with a mouthful of scales rather than itself; a character it shares with all other members of the genus Geckolepis. Its scales were reported to come away with greater ease than its congeners.
Distribution and conservation status
Geckolepis megalepis was described from Ankarana National Park. It is thought to be restricted to the tsingy karst formations of this park. It was proposed to be Near Threatened in its original description, due to ongoing anthropogenic degradation of its habitat, but probable resilience to these changes.
Since this species is the gecko with the largest scales, they have mastered the art of shedding these scales to escape predation. These scales have adapted to being able to tear easily. Underneath the scales is a pre-splitting zone formed by the skin itself. This species is not the only geckos that can shed their skin, but it is the only species that is readily able to do it. They are able to regrow the skin within weeks. With the skin being so easily shed it became hard for the scientist to study them because every time they went to catch them they would just be stuck with the shed skin. Eventually they were able to come up with a way to collect them, and they discovered that the scales are dense and mineralized. The regeneration method is still not quite understood but researchers have hope that they will soon be able to pinpoint just how this process works.
- Scherz, Mark D.; Daza, Juan D.; Köhler, Jörn; Vences, Miguel; Glaw, Frank (2017). "Off the scale: a new species of fish-scale gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Geckolepis) with exceptionally large scales". PeerJ. 5: e2955. doi:10.7717/peerj.2955.
- "New Species of Gecko with Massive Scales and Tear-away Skin Identified". 7 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
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