The natural world is full of amazing phenomena: gravity; weather; decomposition. These are just a few examples, with the very biological processes that allow all living organisms to simply exist another. Perhaps, however, some of the most intriguing phenomena aren’t just the ones that allow creatures to live but those that allow them to survive and thrive. Take, for example, regeneration; it might seem like magic, but regeneration is a natural process that can be truly awe-inspiring! Take a look at four surprising things that can be regenerated:
Deer are the only mammals with the ability to regenerate an entire organ — antlers — and they do it every year! What’s especially cool is that antlers aren’t like nails or hair, made up of dead cells; instead, they are composed of living cells, which drain an astonishing amount of energy from the deer (males only) so that they quickly multiply and grow into the multi-tined appendages the deer use to woe mates and fend off rivals each year.
As mentioned in the introduction, all living organisms regenerate cells to some extent. It’s a phenomenon that helps ensure homeostasis, the process of keeping living things alive. Humans, as an example, naturally regenerate parts of some organs and tissues, like bone, skin and blood. Science indicates that other types of tissues could also potentially regenerate, as well; clinics like ThriveMD, for example, use stem cells to encourage the growth of knee cartilage, spinal discs and anterior cruciate ligaments. The liver, however, is the only visceral organ that universally regenerates across a variety of species; when damaged, it can regrow from just a portion of its original mass, restoring itself to a normal size within a matter of weeks!
Want to know what’s even more impressive than regrowing a liver? How about regrowing a limb or part of a heart?! The axolotl, also known as the Mexican walking fish, is an amphibian that has the rare ability to regenerate almost any part of its body, even a portion of its heart. It’s so unusual that scientists are using it to study scar formation and how wound healing might be altered to allow for complete tissue regeneration instead.
Worm Heads, Tails and More!
Of course, regenerating a heart is pretty spectacular, but an entire body might just take the cake! Think back to middle school. Remember dissecting an earthworm? You might have learned that earthworms can regenerate their tails and often their heads, depending on where and how they’re cut. All worms have this ability, but some kinds of worms can be cut in half and actually form into new worms from each piece! Suffice it to say: mind blown!