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Mystery worm can regenerate its whole body


Posted on Saturday, 4 January, 2014 | Comment icon 19 comments

How are planarians able to regenerate ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Vengolis
The planarian worm possesses remarkable regenerative capabilities that are second to none.
While it is generally known that some worms possess regenerative abilities, one particular species, the planarian, exhibits such extreme feats of regeneration that it has most of the scientific community utterly perplexed.

An otherwise unremarkable organism, the planarian lives at the bottom of rivers and ponds and measures up to about an inch in length. If it happens to lose both its head and tail in a run-in with a predator however, within a couple of weeks it will have completely regenerated both of them, while the severed head and tail will themselves grow in to two additional complete worms.

The regenerative capabilities of the worm are so advanced in fact that scientists have been able to demonstrate a worm regrowing its entire body from as little as a single cell. Not only that, but the regrown specimen appears to retain the same memories it had beforehand.

To date scientists have been unable to explain how the planarian is able to do this.

Source: npr.org | Comments (19)

Tags: Planarian, Regeneration, Worm

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Rlyeh on 5 January, 2014, 12:25
"regenerate its whole body" So, if you smash and burn to dust the entire body, it will grow back in its entirety. The worm immortal, IOW. Harte According to the article it can regenerate from living cells. Burning would kill it.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Harte on 5 January, 2014, 14:25
Then it can't regenerate its "whole body," can it? Harte
Comment icon #12 Posted by Ashiene on 5 January, 2014, 14:56
How does one worm cell regenerate an entire body when it has no functional body parts to consume biomaterial to generate the energy and resources to develop itself?
Comment icon #13 Posted by Ashiene on 5 January, 2014, 14:57
This would be real handy to know if you ran a bait shop. All you have to do is buy one worm, cut it up into hundreds of parts, let them all regenerate into new worms, and repeat. You have infinite worm clones from just one worm.
Comment icon #14 Posted by pallidin on 5 January, 2014, 16:47
How does one worm cell regenerate an entire body when it has no functional body parts to consume biomaterial to generate the energy and resources to develop itself? That is true. It just so happens that the worms are in any extemely resource-rich environment. Osmosis of some type, I would imagine.
Comment icon #15 Posted by FlyingAngel on 5 January, 2014, 22:02
That is true. It just so happens that the worms are in any extemely resource-rich environment. Osmosis of some type, I would imagine. Viva THE solution to the starvation problem
Comment icon #16 Posted by Sundew on 6 January, 2014, 1:04
We have land planaria in our area, supposedly they prey on earthworms. They are very sticky and can get several inches long. Usually find them when moving old logs or rocks. They have a strange half-moon shaped head.
Comment icon #17 Posted by bulveye on 21 January, 2014, 2:47
No one will ever be hungry again!!! HOORAH!! I can think of one fast food chain that may already be even using those worms....
Comment icon #18 Posted by pumpkinheadOO on 21 January, 2014, 3:03
Should be called the "Hammerhead Worm"
Comment icon #19 Posted by psyche101 on 21 January, 2014, 6:16
So that mean if you cut it in half, it will become 2 worms, cut again 4, then 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.. Then one day the world will be fill with THAT worm. No thanks I dunno, if I get this ability and get cut in half, I would end up with a half brother! Not all bad!!


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