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A Lizard With Three Tails and Other Tail Tales

One of the most amazing and envied feats of nature is the ability of some species to regenerate limbs that have been lost in accidents, fights or other activities. A lizard found in Kosovo is triply amazing because it grew back not one … not two … but three tails to replace the one it lost. How did that happen? Is it unique?

The blue-throated keeled lizard (dalmatian algyroides or Algyroides nigropunctatus) was found in June 2015 in Metohija, Kosovo, by Daniel Jablonski, a biologist at Comenius University in Slovakia. The lizard has three tails measuring 30, 15 and 10 mm (1.2, .6 and .4 inches) in length.

A full-length view of the three-tailed lizard

A full-length view of the three-tailed lizard

It’s the first 3-tailed lizard he’s ever seen (he’s seen some twos) and Jablonski believes that the three tails are the result of an injury after an attack or accident that not only took its tail but also crushed the lizard’s spinal cord. The damaged spinal cord regenerated three ends which became the three separate tails. According to his report in Ecologica Montenegrina, Kosovo residents can see the lizards themselves because he returned it to the wild.

Limb and tissue regeneration is found in species of worms, amphibians, reptiles and a mammal known as the African Spiny Mouse. Two tails replacing one is unusual but not unique.

A twin-tailed goldfish

A twin-tailed goldfish

There are also instances of other species being born with two tails. Selective breeding has led to the development of two-tailed fish such as the double tail betta and the Fantail goldfish. A two-tailed robin was discovered in 1936 in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. In the feline world, a rare two-tailed mutation called the polycaudal (poly = many, caudal = tailed) cat has been reported in Japan, North America and Britain.

A two-tailed cat

A two-tailed cat

In mythology, we find the Kitsune, a fox pictured with up to nine tails, and the Jersey Devil, a creature made from parts of multiple animals ending with a forked tail.

Nine-tailed Kitsune

Nine-tailed Kitsune

It looks like congratulations are in order for that blue-throated keeled lizard of Kosovo. It appears you’re the world’s only three-tailed living creature!