from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The spontaneous casting off of a limb or other body part, such as the tail of certain lizards or the claw of a lobster, especially when the organism is injured or under attack.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The spontaneous removal of a limb, tail etc, especially by some invertebrates as a self-defense mechanism.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. spontaneous removal or casting off of a body part (as the tail of a lizard or claw or a lobster) especially when the organism is injured or under attack.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The reflex throwing off of certain parts of the body, us the rays in starfishes and the legs of some arthropods, which do not, as in fission and budding, develop into new individuals. This property may be of use to animals by enabling them to escape from their captors at the expense of only the part seized.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. spontaneous removal or casting off of a body part (as the tail of a lizard or claw of a lobster) especially when the organism is injured or under attack
Overriding of the molt-inducing stimulus of multiple limb autotomy in the mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii by parasitization with a rhizocephalan.
They are also odd among salamanders in that some species can drop the tail as a predator-defence mechanism (properly called caudal autotomy), and in that some species have only four toes on the hindfeet.
Slow-worms are like many other squamates in being able to drop the tail voluntarily by contracting muscles (this is known as caudal autotomy), but they do this more than is usual, with most individuals having autotomised their tails several times.
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Iguanas are also capable of loosing their tail autotomy for defense and it will regenerate.
Passive modes of defence are as many and varied as are the active; one of the strangest and most inexplicable of these is that known as spontaneous amputation, technically termed autotomy.
Such is the adaptive device -- more reflex than reflective -- which is called self-mutilation or autotomy.
Of course, autotomy wouldn't be much use if the animal didn't have regenerative abilities as well.
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