Academic journal article Science and Children

These Worms Recently Evolved the Ability to Regenerate

Academic journal article Science and Children

These Worms Recently Evolved the Ability to Regenerate

Article excerpt

An international group of researchers found that at least four species of marine ribbon worms independently evolved the ability to regrow a head after amputation.

Regeneration of amputated body parts is uncommon but does exist throughout the animal world--from salamanders, spiders, and sea stars that can regrow appendages to a species of ribbon worm that can regenerate an entire individual from just a small sliver of tissue. But regenerative abilities were broadly assumed to be an ancient trait that some species managed to hold on to while most others lost through evolution.

This new study reverses that assumption. In a survey of 35 species of marine ribbon worms, the researchers found that the ability to regenerate an entire head, including a brain, evolved relatively recently in four different species.

"This means that when we compare animal groups, we cannot assume that similarities in their ability to regenerate are old and reflect shared ancestry," says study author Alexandra Bely. "We need to be more careful when comparing regeneration findings across different groups of animals."

All animals have some degree of regenerative ability. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.