Home Sport Self-decapitating sea slugs cut off their own heads, then regenerate brand-new bodies

Self-decapitating sea slugs cut off their own heads, then regenerate brand-new bodies

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The head and the body of a Japanese sea slug, a day after the head was removed.
  • Some sea slugs can regrow hearts and whole new bodies, even after removing their own heads.
  • “We were surprised to see the head moving just after it was severed.”
  • Humans may be able to learn something useful from the sea creatures.

Amazingly, some animals can survive decapitation, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered that two species of Japanese sea slugs can regrow hearts and whole new bodies, even after removing their own heads.

This could eventually help scientists better understand and tackle regeneration of human tissue.

The slug’s head, separated from the heart and body, moved on its own immediately after the separation, the study shows. Within days, the wound at the back of the head closed. The heads of relatively young slugs started to feed on algae within hours. 

They then started regeneration of the heart within a week. Within about three weeks, regeneration was complete.

“We were surprised to see the head moving just after (it was severed),” said study lead author Sayaka Mitoh of Nara Women’s University in Japan. “We thought that it would die soon without a heart and other important organs, but we were surprised again to find that it regenerated the whole body.”

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