The snail that cuts off its own head

There are animals with strange customs. The female praying mantis cuts off the man’s head during copulation. But what about the snail that cuts off its head? Yeah, it really seems extreme. A group of Japanese scientists discovered this rare ability. Two species of marine snail are able to decouple their heads from the rest of their bodies. Not only that: you will grow a new body in just a few weeks.

The snail that cuts off its own head can radically change bodies.
The snail that cuts off its own head can change bodies … radically.

There are many animals with regenerative abilities. Most can replace small body parts that have been damaged or lost after being attacked by a predator. However, these clade Sacoglossa snails can create their entire body from their head. In addition, they appear to be shedding their original bodies on purpose.

“We believe that this is the most extreme form of autonomy and regeneration in nature,” said Sayaka Mitoh. She is a PhD student at Nara Women’s University (Japan) and is the lead author of Study. It was published in Current Biology.

Mitoh happened upon this strange phenomenon. One day he saw the head of a Sacoglossa sea snail Elysia see. marginata surrounds the body from which it was detached in a tank. It happened in a laboratory at his university. “I thought the poor snail was going to die soon” tells the scientific.

But instead of dying, the snail stayed alive. The wound on the back of his head was healing quickly. And then it was replaced with the beginning of a whole new body. “After a few days the head began to regenerate the body and I could see the heartbeat. It was amazing, ”said Mitoh.

Extreme recovery

After about three weeks, the snail finished the process. He managed to replace 80% of the originally lost organism. Including all vital organs without which he lived for a long time.

Also the decapitated body can keep moving and live for days or months. Further research showed that another species is capable of this. The sea snail Sacoglossa, Elysia atroviridisalso has similar regenerative abilities. In addition, certain specimens can even perform the trick more than once. The snail that cuts its head has found a rival.

Scientists still do not know the details of the regeneration mechanism of these particular snails. So they hope to deepen their investigation. At the moment they suspect that “multipotent” stem cells You can be involved in the process.

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