It would be wonderful if we could regenerate a missing limb or damaged organ. Imagine never having to get dentures because you could grow new teeth throughout your lifetime! Although these abilities might sound like a futuristic science fiction movie, they exist in the animal kingdom. While most animals do not have these abilities, there are a few that do. However, those few creatures may provide us with insight into how regeneration occurs in their species.
The salamander is an amphibian with a tail and short legs. There are over 700 species of salamander. Although all salamanders have a certain degree of regeneration, some species have a higher regenerative capacity than others. Some salamanders can regrow their tails in a few weeks, after dropping the old one to distract predators. The new appendage is as fully functional as the original.
Axolotls are an aquatic species of salamander with extraordinary regenerative ability. These little salamanders can regenerate organs, skin, limbs, or practically any body part.
Although sharks can’t regenerate organs or other body parts, they are certainly ahead in dental regeneration. Sharks can regrow teeth throughout their lifetimes. The length of time it takes for a shark to regrow a tooth varies from a few days to a few months. If scientific researchers can determine how this process works, it could revolutionize dentistry.
Starfish are remarkable regenerative animals. Not only can starfish grow a new limb, but these creatures can also grow a whole new body from the lost limb. Several new starfish can grow from pieces of the original one. Now, that’s amazing!
The river-dwelling Mexican tetra is a fish that can regenerate heart tissue. Research shows that this fish can generate tissue with no scarring. Scientists hope that studying the Mexican tetra could lead to breakthroughs in the field of cardiovascular disease. However, the Mexican tetra isn’t the only fish that can regenerate heart tissue. The zebrafish can also generate its heart with little or no scarring.
Although chameleons are best known for their color-changing ability, they are also able to regenerate. Chameleons can regrow their tails and limbs. They can also heal damaged nerves and skin during the regenerative process.
These are just a few animals with the ability to regrow body parts. There are many more. Some of these creatures have limited regenerative abilities that allow the growth of only specific limbs or organs. However, some animals can grow an entire body from a severed limb. In some animals, their regenerative abilities decline as they age. We can learn a lot from these creatures. Imagine how the medical industry would change if we could harness these capabilities. Perhaps one day, we will be able to regrow limbs and regenerate organs. Such discoveries could end suffering and increase overall health, thanks to many of these miraculous creatures that we are just beginning to understand.