By Susan Milius / sciencenews.org

Losing your body from the neck down can be just another one of life’s annoying, but temporary, setbacks — at least for two kinds of rippling, green-tinged sea slugs.

Heads of young Elysia cf. marginata sea slugs can pull themselves free from their bodies and just keep crawling around while growing a new body, report ecologists at Nara Women’s University in Japan. Within a few hours, some separated heads start nibbling on algae again, Sayaka Mitoh and Yoichi Yusa report March 8 in Current Biology. And within about 20 days, a third of the young sea slugs they watched had grown their bodies back, heart and all.

That’s the first time anyone has reported such dramatic “whole-body” regeneration in any sea slug “as far as we know,” Yusa says.

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