A recent study has revealed that young alligators have the ability to regrow their tails up to three-quarters of a foot or 18 percent of their total body length just like lizards. As per reports, a team of researchers from Arizona State University and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries used advanced imaging techniques combined with demonstrated methods of studying anatomy and tissue organisation to examine the structure of the alligators’ regrown tails.
New tails were complicated structures
The interdisciplinary team of scientists is reported to have discovered that the new tails were complicated structures with a central skeleton composed of cartilage surrounded by connective tissue that was connected with blood vessels and nerves. Scientists further hypothesized that regrowing their tails gives the alligators a functional advantage in their aquatic habitats.
Cindy Xu, a recent PhD graduate from ASU’s molecular and cellular biology program and lead author of the paper said “What makes the alligator interesting, apart from its size, is that the regrown tail exhibits signs of both regeneration and wound healing within the same structure.”
Xu added that the regrowth of cartilage, nerves, blood vessels and scales are consistent with previous studies of lizard tail regeneration from their lab. However, she said they were surprised to discover scar-like connective tissue in place of skeletal muscle in the regrown alligator tail while adding that future comparative studies will be essential to understand why regenerative capacity is variable among different reptile and animal groups.
Ruth M. Elsey, a Biologist Manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said they saw alligators in the field with some indication of possible regrowth of tail tissue. However, their expertise led to the current study detailing the histological changes associated with the capacity for possible partial tail regrowth or wound repair.
The scientists further informed that alligators, lizards, and humans belong to a group of animals with backbones called ‘amniotes’. The finding of regrowth of complex new tails in the alligator gives further information about the process in amniotes, the researchers added. Meanwhile, they also hoped their findings will lead to discoveries of new therapeutic approaches to repairing injuries and treating diseases such as arthritis. The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
(With ANI inputs)