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Caudal pseudoautotomy in the Eastern Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Frequent tail loss has been reported in a variety of reptiles including sphenodonts, lizards, amphisbaenids, and snakes. We report evidence of non-specialized pseudoautotomy as an antipredator defense in the Eastern Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus. In field studies in Nova Scotia, Canada, T. sauritus were frequently found with partial tails, during three capture attempts T. sauritus tails became completely or partially detached, and one detached tail twitched repeatedly after separation. The breakage was intervertebral, suggesting pseudoautotomy (i.e., that the snake's tail anatomy was not specialized for easy tail loss). Although tail loss patterns in T. sauritus have been well documented, to our knowledge this is the first time pseudoautotomy has been reported in T. sauritus.

Affiliations: 1: c/o Wassersug Lab, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, B3H 1X5, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 2: Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, B3H 1X5, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada;, Email:


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