These Sea Slugs Sever Their Own Heads and Regenerate New Bodies

Researchers found that the heads started to feed within just hours of being detached from a body.

Sure, starfish can grow new arms, salamanders have the ability to grow new tails, and axolotls re-form their spinal cords, but scientists have found sea slugs that can grow an entirely new body.

How’s that for a makeover?

Researchers discovered two species of sea slug that can grow bodies complete with a heart and other internal organs while observing them for other studies. One of the creatures was seen moving around without its body on one occasion, and another was seen doing the same thing twice.

The head moved on its own immediately after being separated from the body – and within just days the wound at the back of the head had closed, according to the study published in a peer-reviewed journal, Current Biology.

The report also found the heads of young sea slugs started to feed on algae within hours of detachment, and they started regenerating a heart within a week, while the heads of older individuals died in about 10 days. Researchers at the Nara Women’s University in Japan found a new body, complete with all organs, was formed by the severed head within three weeks.

The cast-off bodies did not regenerate the lost body part in either the young or old sea slugs, but they were seen to move around and react to being touched for several days or even months.

“Off with OUR heads!” – young sea slugs.

Matt Sterner

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