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Cutting Earthworms in Half

As a small child, you may have been informed that if you cut an earthworm in half, both halves will regenerate into two new worms. This phenomenon relies on the worm having no noticeable head. In reality, earthworms have a distinct head and tail. If the worm is cut behind  the citellum, the pale, swollen band, The Head May survive and regenerate a tail if it is cut ahead of the citellium,The whole worm will die. In both scenarios, the worm’s tail won’t survive.

The above stated is true for most worms. One of the few exceptions to this is the flatworm. Several species of flatworm are mysteriously able to regenerate their entire body from just a small portion of the original worm. These worms possess a special type of cell, called  a ‘stem cell’, that enable the worm to regenerate.This discovery may have medical applications, as explained by Dr. Sanchez Alvarado. “the fact that the marker we discovered is expressed… in… humans suggest that there is some conserved mechanisms that we can exploit.”

Stem cells are already widely used in hospitals around the world. In a stem cell transplant, stem cells are used to replace cells damaged by chemotherapy, spinal cord injury, burns, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, and several other diseases and injuries. In essence, cutting a worm in half usually does not create two new worms. Worms that can be cut in half utilize stem cells, and those cells are used to save many human lives.


By: Ryan Roco

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