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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Leave it all behind: a taxonomic perspective of autotomy in vertebrates.
The energetic cost of tail autotomy to reproduction in the lizard Coleonyx brevis (Sauria: Gekkonidae).
Long-term and intensive studies at several sites in Victoria have recorded many skinks that had experienced autotomy, but very few were found with multiple regrowing tails.
A mechanism of strain-induced softening at autotomy in holothurians has been proposed [74].
Tail autotomy, functional conflicts and their resolution by a salamander.
In Nairobi, Seifert was able to document the first known case of skin autotomy in a mammal.
The process of total tail autotomy in the South American rodent Proechimys.
Although many taxa within the phylum Arthropoda experience autotomy, Phasmida is the only order within the class Insecta that regularly sheds and regenerates lost legs (Borrer et al.
Key words: call frequency, gecko distribution, Hemidactylus frenatus, autotomy, temperature, seasonality.
Some 470 delegates and speakers attended the fourth annual Native Title Conference in Alice Springs in June to discuss the practical aspects of the legislative regime--including agreement making, alternative funding models for greater Indigenous autotomy, mediating community disputes, governance and finding integrated approaches.
This suggests that the lizards are paying a considerable energetic cost for their tactic of autotomy. But the scientists found the losses were not too severe.
Until their last molts, spiders can regenerate their lost limbs, a trick of nature called autotomy.