Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Scientists Discover New Clues To Regeneration: How Flatworms Regrow Heads 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the two-heads-are-better-than-none dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Regeneration is one of the most useful skills that an organism can possess. Lizards can regrow their tails and starfish can regrow and entire part of themselves if they're cut to pieces. Yet scientists have long wondered why some creatures possess this ability while others don't. That's why they decided to examine the process of regeneration, looking at the masters of this particular adaptation: flatworms."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Discover New Clues To Regeneration: How Flatworms Regrow Heads

Comments Filter:
  • uh huh (Score:4, Funny)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:38PM (#44384499) Homepage Journal

    Matt Smith is pleased.

  • really? Cool, certainly, but it seems there hasn't been a need to evolve the skill in many species.

    • by Nrrqshrr (1879148)
      Well, evolution at work, I guess. if you'r stupid enough to lose your head, you probably shouldn't regrow it.
    • Evolution & scarring (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:42PM (#44385183)

      Actually, it's more like the skill was lost in favor of one that was considered far more useful for survival -- inflammation and scarring.

      Scarring stops bleeding and infection far faster than regeneration can and is a vital advantage in quick and dirty wound recovery. Scarring comes about because of a mutation that allows collagen to cross-link and build quicker scaffolding to seal the wound, but it comes at the cost of not being able to regrow tissues in the now "paved over" area. In the wild, this gave our distant mammalian ancestors the valuable ability to just kind of "write-off" the area and get up and going as fast as possible and avoid being preyed upon in a moment of weakness.

      We may dismiss scarring today as ugly and wasteful of an opportunity to be made whole again, but without it, we probably wouldn't exist today.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        "Scarring is OP!"

        (Sometimes I think I may have liked being a teacher.)

        (Sometimes I think how wonderful would school have been if my teacher had explained the world instead of just showing it.)

  • Paywall ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by earlzdotnet (2788729) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:46PM (#44384567)
    Article is paywalled. I can get it on "readcube" for either $5 or $10. Or I can get it in a sane format (PDF) for $32. ORRR I can pay a lowly $200 to "subscribe to Nature" for some amount of time. And companies wonder why people pirate their material
  • by callmebill (1917294) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:49PM (#44384595)
    Suppose you could cut a starfish into 5 segments, and they could each regenerate the missing 4. Which is the real one? How much of a body can one replace before it's a different body?
    • by cusco (717999)
      In the case of flatworms the second link (which plays a really annoying audio ad) says that some species can be cut into as many as 200 pieces and regrow into 200 new flatworms. IIRC, flatworms have a (fairly limited) ability to learn. I wonder if any of the regenerated worms maintain the learned behavior.
    • An old thought experiment, I've heard it most repeated with cars, as well as by George Carlin. If you have a car and you replace a bolt, is it still the same car? Most people would say yes. What if you replaced another bolt? Most would still say yes. What if you replace every single part, one at a time? What if you then took all of those original parts and reassembled them into a new car. Which is the original?

      Personally, I'd say none of your starfish are the "original" unless there's a core piece that you

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The original conception was not cars, but the Ship of Theseus. [wikipedia.org]

        It's mostly about how we define identity and doesn't really have an answer.

        • by osu-neko (2604)

          The original conception was not cars, but the Ship of Theseus. [wikipedia.org]

          It's mostly about how we define identity and doesn't really have an answer.

          It has an answer, just not one most people are looking for. If you want to know which ship is Theseus' ship, go ask the Athenian Port Authority. Property is a legal concept, and they're the authorities -- they can give you the definitive answer, and can't possibly be wrong, because they determine the right answer by virtue of their authority and what it means for it to be "his" ship.

          (Despite what it looks like, this is not actually dodging the question. Rather, it's making a point about it. Property is

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      Suppose you could cut a starfish into 5 segments, and they could each regenerate the missing 4. Which is the real one?

      Huh? They're all real. You don't end up with one real and four imaginary starfish.

      How much of a body can one replace before it's a different body?

      Your body is different today than it was yesterday. Life is change...

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:52PM (#44384623) Homepage

    Please. Flatworms are great but plants.... plants are the champions here. Cut them off at the base, and they regrow from their roots. Cut off a branch and keep it from drying out, and it will regrow roots. Cut off leaves, it grows more, cut branches, it grows more.

    Cut a flatworm up, you get more of the same. Cut a plant, and it will not just regrow....it will actually grow more limbs than you cut off. Wake me up when you cut a lizards tail off and he grows 6 more tails in response.

    • The difference is whether we can apply it to us. Flatworms are at least in the animalia kingdom, so it's a big step closer to being useful for humans compared to plantae.

      • by snadrus (930168)

        Regeneration was found in some mice last year. Mammals is an even closer subgroup.

    • 6 more tails wouldn't be functional, so it regrows only one, often just partially and only if the lizard species possesses the capability at all. Most species that do, often have a limited capability to regrow the tail more than once. A lizard needs it's tail to balance itself during running and climbing and more than one would hinder it.
    • Wake me up when you cut a lizards tail off and he grows 6 more tails in response.

      I've heard of one where if you cut off its head, another two would grow in its place.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Cut a flatworm up, you get more of the same. Cut a plant, and it will not just regrow....it will actually grow more limbs than you cut off."

      That's exactly the reason, why it was switched off in higher organisms, they can't handle the extra limbs.

  • New head (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:58PM (#44384681)
    Maybe John Wayne Bobbitt could benefit?
  • Regrowing body parts or even growing new ones is certainly useful for kaiju.
  • Some city was suffering from reduced tourism because their beaches had been invaded by starfish. So they paid some kids to go to the beach and kill every starfish they found by cutting it in half...
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday July 25, 2013 @04:09PM (#44385453) Homepage

    Cut off your head & grow a new one. Cool!

  • This could be useful, I know quite a few politicians that need to grow new heada...
  • I want new feet. I want a new right arm. I want a new penis. I want new teeth.

    Not necessarily in that order.

  • So this gets around the 12 regeneration limit for Time Lords?

    John Hurt is not going to be the last Doctor

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

Working...