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Surgical removal of a part of one's own body.
The process of self-amputation of appendages in crabs and other crustaceans and tails in some salamanders and lizards under stress.



self-mutilation, a protective reaction observed in many animals upon acute stimulus; for example, seizure by a predator.

Autotomy consists in the spontaneous shedding of extremities, tail, or other parts of the body. The term “autotomy” was introduced and thoroughly examined by the Belgian physiologist L. Fredericq in 1883. Autotomy is encountered in invertebrates—certain hydroid polyps and actinia shed feelers; nemertines and segmented worms shed the end of the body; sea lilies, starfish, and other echinoderms lose arms; mollusks shed siphons; and crustaceans lose claws and other extremities. Among the vertebrates, autotomy is inherent only in lizards, which shed their tails. Autotomy is a reflex process, and the place of autotomy is determined specifically in each animal. For example, in lizards, autotomy is controlled by a nerve center located in the spinal cord, and the breaking occurs with a sharp contraction of muscles in the very spot of the backbone where a transverse cartilage plate is located. Autotomy is usually associated with the ability to regenerate the lost parts of the body; that is, regeneration occurs most easily at the site of autotomy.

References in periodicals archive ?
Those that had claws removed by induced autotomy had significantly lower mortality than did those manually declawed.
The energetic cost of tail autotomy to reproduction in the lizard Coleonyx brevis (Sauria: Gekkonidae).
Invest in arms: behavioural and energetic implications of multiple autotomy in starfish (Asterias rubens).
Caudal autotomy was recorded during studies at these two sites; however, no individuals were found with multiple tails.
Salamander tail autotomy and snake predation: role of antipredator behaviour and toxicity for three Neotropical Bolitoglossa (Caudata: Plethodontidae).
Nymphs always commence regeneration after autotomy, and regenerated legs are always smaller than non-regenerated legs (Bordage 1905; Ramme 1931; Carlberg 1992; Maginnis 2006b).
In a study of king crabs caught in bottom trawls, Stevens (1990) found that leg and body injuries increased the likelihood of death by 29 and 41%, respectively, while evidence of recent autotomy was not significantly associated with an increased likelihood of death.
Though there have been trends away from regulation, federal and state legislators have begun to explore legislation that will allow consumers greater autotomy such as choice of provider (Watson, Eilenberg, & Odulana, 1995).
Effects of limb autotomy and tethering on juvenile blue crab survival from cannibalism.
Similar results were found by Hodgson (1984), who reported a defensive function of siphonal autotomy in Solenacea (Mollusca: Bivalvia).
Spiders share the ability to shed appendages--a process known as autotomy, or self amputation--with many other invertebrates and some vertebrates.