What Animals Can Regenerate Body Parts?

regenerate, lizard, new tail

Looks like this lizard recently lost its tail.

How cool would it be to be able to regenerate body parts?  Unfortunately, if I get a finger cut off I can’t grow it back, but there are many animals that can grow back body parts.

As a kid growing up I saw a lot of lizards, mostly running away from us when we went into our garage.  Sometimes those lizards would lose their tail and I remember being shocked when I learned that they could just grow a new one.  I haven’t thought about that too much, but recently my kids and I saw some lizards.  Then that memory came into my mind and I wondered what other animals have the ability to regenerate body parts.

What Does it Mean to Regenerate or Grow New Body Parts?

First of all, let’s make sure we understand what it means to regenerate.  Regeneration of a body part means that an animal can grow a new limb or appendage that has been lost, or damaged.

What Animals Can Regenerate  Body Parts?

Worms – planarian flatworms have the ability to grow back lost heads or tails.  Ordinary earthworms on the other hand generally can not grow into two new worms if they are cut in half.

Lizards – many, but not all lizards, geckos, and iguanas have the ability to regenerate.  Usually it means that they can grow back part or the entire tail.  Sometimes they will let their tail drop off as a defense mechanism, enabling them to escape a predator.  Lizards can only regrow their lost tail a few times and the new tail looks the same, but is actually different than the original.

regenerate, animal, salamander

A tiger salamander can grow back its tail if it is lost.

Salamander – a salamander can grow back a lost tail again and again.  The tail that the salamander grows back is an exact replica of the lost tail.

Insects – can drop off a broken or damaged leg and then regenerate a new one.

Starfish – can lose a leg and then grow a new one.

These are just some of the many animals that have this amazing ability to grow new body parts.

No mammals have the ability to regenerate a lost limb or appendage, such as a lost arm or leg.  That is why you sometimes see people or dogs missing a leg.

Scientists are spending a lot of time studying the ability of these other animals to regenerate lost or damaged body parts.  Their hope is that they may discover something that they can use to help people regenerate body parts.