The sea slug that decapitates itself to regenerate with a new body
Elysia marginata it is a somewhat strange sea slug. It lives on the sea floor and feeds on algae, like so many other slugs or sea animals. Its peculiarity, however, lies in the way it “heals” itself. To do this, she cuts off her head in order to get rid of the diseased body. Later regenerates a new body as if nothing had happened.
A new study from Japan reveals how certain sea slugs can intentionally removing your entire body except your head to grow a new one. The discovery was possible by chance, when a researcher discovered that the sea slug lived in the laboratory without a body and only moving its head to eat algae from around it.
In subsequent investigations, it was observed that multiple slugs decapitated themselves during their lifetime. Not all sea slugs shed their bodies and not all survive after doing so. However, it is a process that appears to occur when the body is infected. The researchers discovered that slugs that acquired a marine parasite typical of crustaceans, shed their bodies to get rid of the parasite.
About 30% of sea slugs managed to regenerate a new body after getting rid of the old man. If there is so little chance of survival, why cut your body? Because the chances of surviving with the parasite are even lower, therefore they decide to take the risk. Younger slugs apparently had a better chance of successfully regenerating a body.
The process by which the slug decapitates itself is most curious. It does not require cuts or rough processes. Instead the slug self-destructs part of the neck tissues so that the head can be detached from the body later. That is, it stops feeding neck cells so that they die and the body ends up separating.
Survival without a body but not without a head
The interesting point of this is how the slug can regenerate vital parts of the body to live. Remaining only with the head, for example, he gets rid of the heart. Although the decapitated body can react to stimuli for several months, in the end it ends up dying because it does not have the head with which to feed and coordinate.
The head for its part survives and generates a new body in a matter of three weeks. Meanwhile, it feeds with its mouth and also through a kind of photosynthesis that it is capable of performing at the most critical moments. The slug does not have cells to produce energy by photosynthesis, however, it feeds on algae with chloroplasts that do photosynthesize. These chloroplasts are distributed throughout your body so that they continue to generate sugars in sunlight for weeks or even months.
Once the body rebuilding process begins, the slug regenerates vital organs again that this possessed how can be the heart. New body, new life.