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Monday, June 19, 2017

Are two heads better than one?

A Freshwater Planarian    (Photo by Eduard Sola)
For humans on earth, this tends to be a rhetorical question.  For flatworms in space, its relevancy increases.

Cut a human in half, and he or she will typically die.  Cut a planarian in half, and it will typically regenerate into two complete planaria.  This means that the back end will regrow a head, and the front end will regrow a tail.

Scientists recently sent such worms into space in order to “observe how microgravity and fluctuations in the geomagnetic field” might affect their regenerative abilities.  This may lead to a better understanding of “how living in space could affect [human] cell activity.”

Lo and behold, one enterprising segment regrew two heads!  This leaves researchers scratching their many heads while wondering why.  Could it really be that two heads are better than one?  Or could it just be that hanging in space makes cells a bit spacey?


Copyright June 19, 2017 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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