Gallery of Autotomous Animals



The axolotl, also known as the Mexican walking fish, is a neotenic salamander. Like many other salamanders, axolotls are able to regenerate limbs and even parts of major organs including their brain. There are even reports of axolotls with damaged spinal cords regaining the ability of move their legs! Due to this amazing feat, axolotls are widely studied and are seen as a model for perfect regeneration.



When attacked or under pressure from predators, lizards are able to detach or drop their tail! The tail acts as a distraction allowing the lizard to safely get away. Though this is a costly act, the lizard is able to regenerate its lost tail over time.


Japanese Slug


Satsuma Caliginosa is a species of snails found throughout the Japanese islands. When attacked by snakes, its primary predator, this snail is able to amputate its foot as it escapes. Even after bitten, the snail is able to amputate its foot preventing the poisoning from spreading to the rest of its body. Although this moment ultimately prolongs the snail’s life, it can take up to a month for the foot to grow back.




Starfish are star-shaped echinoderms found throughout the world.  Usually only thought of as means as reproduction, starfish have the amazing ability to detach and regenerate limbs. This special ability can also be demonstrated under the circumstances of stress or fear brought on by a predator. The detached limb can act as a distraction allowing the starfish to get safely away.


Sea Cucumber


When feeling threatened by a large predator, sea cucumbers are able to turn their bodies into the ultimate defense mechanism.  They are able to constrict their muscles in such that way that some of their internal organs will be ejected out onto the predator. This will entrap or at least momentarily distract the predator allowing them to get away. The ejected organs can regenerate over time.




Crawfish are found throughout the world and are known for their relatively large claws which they use to fight other crawfish and predators. If the opponent proves to be too large, the smaller crawfish will “drop” their claws and escape. The dropped claws can act as means of surrender or prove as distraction for a predator.


Legless Lizard


Legless lizards evolved from legged lizards and are often misidentified as snakes due to their physical resemblance. Like many other lizards, legless lizards are able to detach their tails in order to escape a predator. The tail will continue to move for a few minutes extra minutes and act as a distraction.


Octopoteuthis deletron


Octopoteuthis deletron is a species of squid from the genus Octopoteuthis. It can autotomize its arm anywhere along the length, although it has a few specific breakage planes. Also, it practices attack autotomy, and the detached limb glows!

Image credits

See References for more information.



Japanese Snail.  

Legless Lizard.


O. deletron. From Bush 2012 (see References.)

Sea Cucumber.