Biology Intelligent Design

Sea slugs cut off their own heads and grow a new body

Spread the love

In a process technically called autotomy:

Once the team found one self-severed individual, they went about investigating why, and precisely how, that breakage occurred. These observations included attempts to induce a self-beheading, by imitating the sort of cursory nips a marine predator would make on the slug in the wild (perhaps, they guessed, the slug parting with its body was similar to a fighter jet pilot using an ejector seat)…

Though the true nature of the autotomy remains unknown, the team was able to induce autonomy in all but one slug within a day. In the paper, Mitoh’s team suggested that autotomy in the wild could happen in Elysia atroviridis because the slug is regularly encumbered with planktonic parasites—perhaps leaving a parasite-ridden body behind to grow a new one is the easiest way of dealing with the infestation.

Isaac Schultz, “These Slugs Cut Off Their Own Heads When They Want a New Body” at Gizmodo

The paper is open access.

The bodies do not grow new heads. The slug head can live without a heart for some time because it breathes through the skin.

Note: These are the same creatures that grab chloroplasts from plants and photosynthesize when short of food — a remarkable form of horizontal gene transfer.

One Reply to “Sea slugs cut off their own heads and grow a new body

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Oh dear. Now this will start a new ‘identifies as’ fad for people who believe they are actually a disembodied head that needs a new body. Then the “medical” “profession” will spend billions in research figuring out how to satisfy the Individuals Experiencing Inadequate Autotomy. Then a black market in donor bodies will develop, killing lots of poor Filipinos who don’t understand the consequences. Then we’ll have laws requiring autotomy training on campus and prohibiting anti-autotomy counseling.

Leave a Reply