Sea Slugs Can Literally Start Over by Regrowing a Body

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The head and the body of the sea slug Elysia marginata, a day after the animal decapitated itself. (Sayaka Mitoh)

Sea Slug’s Decapitated Head Crawls Around Before Regrowing a Body

By Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

Some sea slugs decapitate themselves and regrow fresh bodies in mere weeks, reports Annie Roth for the New York Times.

The findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, describe Elysia marginata and Elysia atroviridis sea slug heads detaching and crawling away from their bodies. Within hours, the researchers say these disembodied heads started munching on algae again as though nothing had happened. Per the Times, the researchers think the sea slugs’ grisly strategy may be a way of ridding themselves of parasites.



Susan Milius of Science News notes that there are other examples of similarly extreme regeneration in the animal kingdom, including flatworms and sea squirts. But these creatures, according to Science News, have simpler bodies. The sea slugs are regrowing vital organs such as the heart, while flatworms and sea squirts don’t have hearts to begin with.

Oddly enough, the headless bodies can also survive for a few months, their hearts still beating as they begin to rot, reports Christa Leste-Lasserre for New Scientist. But, as Sayaka Mitoh, a biologist at Nara Women’s University in Japan and co-author of the paper, tells New Scientist, …Read More:

 

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