The movie 127 Hours would not have been as thrilling if the main character was an amphibian. Instead of spending days with his arm stuck under a boulder, Aron Ralston could have just ripped the arm off of his body and have a brand new limb in the morning ready to be crushed all over again. Regeneration of limbs and tails is very common in the world of amphibians and reptiles. Unfortunately for mammals, we do not have the same luxury.
The future, however, may be different. Biologists have recently discovered an African mouse, the African spiny mouse, that has the ability to completely regrow cells at a rapid rate in nearly the same way Salamanders regrow arms and legs. Other mammals, like humans, get filled with scar tissue, but that’s not the case with the spiny mouse.
Ashley W. Seifert, a researcher in University of Florida’s biology department, explains that:
The African spiny mouse appears to regenerate ear tissue in much the way that a salamander regrows a limb that has been lost to a predator. Skin, hair follicles, cartilage — it all comes back.
Although the mice can’t regrow muscle, they don’t produce scar tissue like we do. Their skin completely regenerates itself. The researchers believe this will lead to a whole new realm of regenerative medicine.
Goodbye pretending to lose an arm while playing ‘War’ as a child, and hello real life hacking of limbs. Playtime will never be the same again.