When confronted with the possibility of being devoured, the common gecko is capable of making a somewhat brutal compromise. Rather than making the binary choice of life or death, as most animals do in similar situations, the lizard can instead shed the entirety of its own tail as an offering to potential predators. During such a transaction, the predator receives a much smaller meal, but the gecko’s life is spared, and its tail eventually grows back.
Eighteenth century explorer José de Almagro claimed to have discovered a much more curious specimen in the mountains of what is today Chile: a gecko which, when threatened, could shed its entire body at once. Whenever this would happen, the creature’s ghost would skitter forth from its own corpse’s mouth, tricking predators into believing that their hunt had been successful.
According to Almagro, much like its genetic cousins, this particular gecko could still regenerate the parts of its body that it had lost, even if that meant regenerating its entire body at once. In order for this to happen, however, two adult geckos would need to mate under entirely independent circumstances. While some of the eggs produced by their conjunction would simply result in new geckos upon hatching, others would instead provide new bodies to those that previously left their own behind. Almagro maintained, however, that there was no means by which to tell these categories of egg apart externally.
Whether or not such a cryptid has ever existed remains a controversial topic among zoologists. While sightings and samples remain common, every alleged specimen brought to a laboratory has instead been identified as a previously known species of lizard. Because of this, some diehard believers maintain that Almagro’s gecko is actually extinct, and that, in order to continue existing, the disembodied ghosts that survived their own extinction have since been forced to occupy the embryos of other gecko species.