Newt Pushes it’s Ribs Through It’s Skin as Defense Mechanism

One of the strangest defense mechanisms that evolution has created must be the method in which a Spanish ribbed newt fends off predators. It was first described in 1879, but it’s only within the last decade that scientists have fully understood the process.

Rib Spikes Protruding from the Skin

Rib Spikes Protruding from the Skin

Every time the newt is attacked, it tenses it’s muscles and forces it’s ribs forwards and through its skin, providing two rows of spikes ready to defend against an attacker. For this to happen the bones of the newt need to break and it is wounded by the barbs passing through the skin. This occurs every time the animal feels threatened, but surprisingly doesn’t seem to cause any major problems to the animal.

XRay Showing Relaxed Position of Ribs (on right) and Defensive Position of Ribs

XRay Showing Relaxed Position of Ribs (on right) and Defensive Position of Ribs

To make this mechanism even more effective, and even deadly in some cases, the newt also excretes a poisonous substance – a poison that it itself is immune to. In combination with the sharp barbed ends of the ribs, this gives a dose of poison into the flesh of an animal that is trying to attack the newt.

This newt is certainly a testament to the ability amphibians have to regenerate tissue.

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