Sea spiders are capable of regrowing more than just limbs: study

A study published on Monday suggests that, in addition to limbs, sea spiders can regrow other body parts after amputation, opening the door to additional research into regeneration.

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Senior author Gerhard Scholtz of Humboldt University in Berlin, who contributed to the study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stated, “Nobody had expected this.” We were the first to demonstrate that this could be done.

It is well established that many different kinds of arthropods, including centipedes, spiders, and other insects, can regenerate lost limbs.

According to Scholtz, “Crabs can even automatically get rid of their limbs if they are attacked.” An entirely new limb takes its place.

With their experiments on the tiny eight-legged sea spiders, the researchers discovered that they can regenerate body parts other than limbs.

23 immature and adult sea spiders’ hind limbs and posterior parts were amputated for the study, and the results were tracked.

Adult sea spiders do not regenerate body parts, but some of them are still alive two years later.

On the other hand, the juvenile specimens had complete or near-complete regeneration of the missing body parts, such as the hindgut, anus, muscles, and reproductive organ parts.

Ninety percent of the sea spiders lived to adulthood, and sixteen of the young ones underwent at least one molt.

14 of the young spiders showed posterior regrowth, but none of the adult specimens molted or regenerated.

The capacity for regeneration varies across the animal kingdom. For instance, flatworms can regenerate their body with just a few cells.

Except for lizards, which can regrow their tails, vertebrates—including humans—have virtually no capacity for regeneration.

According to Scholtz, the findings may open the door to additional research in the field.

He stated, “There are a lot of different species that can be tested in this way.”

The next thing you might do is try to figure out what causes the regrowth.

He stated, “We can try to find out what indicates the regeneration on the cellular level and the molecular level.”

“Perhaps there are stem cells involved, which are cells that have not been differentiated and are capable of changing shape and destiny?”

Scholtz stated, “Maybe, in the end, the mechanisms we detect in arthropods may help medical treatments for human limb loss, finger loss, and so on.” The hope is always in this.

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