As a kid, one of the most fascinating thing I ever witnessed while conducting my own zoology experiments, was to watch a lizard leave it’s tail behind.
I am sure many of you must have found it intriguing that a lizard, if threatened, can voluntarily let go of its tail. It’s common in many lizard species to shed a part of their tails. It’s a survival mechanism. The trick allows these reptiles to escape when captured by the tail by a predator. The detached tail writhes and wiggles, creating a deceptive sense of continued struggle, distracting the predator’s attention from the fleeing prey animal.
It’s a marvellous self-preservation mechanism that evolution has given to lizards. And what’s more fascinating is that the lizard can grow that tail back in a matter of few weeks. What a robust way to deal with loss!
If that sounds cool then you must also know about Hydra. It is a serpent-like creature from Greek mythology. Hydra grows two new heads every time you cut one off. In Indian mythology, there is a similar character called Raktavija. A demon (asura) who who has the magic boon that every drop of blood shed from his body gives rise to another Raktavija (literally the blood borne).
These apocryphal characters are very important metaphors to improve our understanding about fragility and robustness.
What is fragile? Something which breaks or disintegrates easily when subjected to a stress or disorder. Isn’t it?