How often do we adapt to the environment instead of avoiding danger?
“Oh, run for your lives! Get out while you can! Survive by your wits in the wild!Jeremiah 48:6-7 MSG
You trusted in thick walls and big money, yes? But it won’t help you now.”
Lizards Can Adapt to the Environment
“What’s up with that lizard?” one of my students asked. “Something happened to its tail.”
“Is it bleeding?” another student asked.
“No, it’s just short and stubby looking.”
“It must have had a run-in with a predator,” I said. “God gave lizards the ability to shed their tail if a predator tries to grab them from behind.”
“How can they live without their tails, though?” one wanted to know,
“They can adapt to the environment without a tail,” I said. “And even more cool, their tails will grow back!”
“No way! That’s legit,” the first student said.
We continued our nature hike, and the kids had fun identifying lizards based on their tail lengths.
Caudal autotomy—the ability to shed one’s tail, occurs in some lizards, salamanders, and even chipmunks. Until recently, scientists believed lizards shed their tails in response to all predators. But a research study in Greece indicated smaller lizards shed their tails in response mostly to vipers—venomous snakes.
By shedding their tails quickly, lizards can cut off the flow of venom after a snake bite before the poison reaches their vital organs.
Other animals besides lizards can lose parts of themselves in response to danger, too. Known as autotomy (think lobotomy, but the animal does the shedding to itself). Two species of African spiny mice can shed skin and regenerate it afterward.
Can I Shed My Tail?
This ability to adapt to the threats in the environment protects creatures, but they don’t come away unscathed. Lizards’ tails grow back, but it takes time. The bone doesn’t grow back, instead, stiff cartilage replaces it. The process could take up to a year.
I don’t have a tail to shed, but the whole viper/tail-shedding connection makes me think of another snake. It also makes me think about how accustomed I get to my environment. And how I would benefit from shedding things that drag me down and threaten to poison my peace.
What could you drop from your life before it poisons you?