Behold the Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko


Satanic gecko action! REUTERS/J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

Our recent episode "Autotomy: Nature's Dismemberment Plan" dives into the tail-dropping world of lizards, geckos and skinks, so I thought we'd better pause and appreciate the wonder of the Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko.

The diminutive Uroplatus schneideri makes its home in Madagascar and utilizes a whole host of crazy defensive strategies. Here's what it's packing:

  • Fantastic leaf mimicry, thanks especially to its mottled skin and leafy tail.
  • Ability to flatten themselves against the ground to reduce their shadow.
  • Defensive display of their wide, bright-red mouth.
  • Tail autotomy or defensive tail shedding.

And while biologists fail to mention it, they can presumably call on the power of Satan to protect them from would-be predators.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.