Marginata Sea Slug Cut Off Head
Photo credit: Sayaka Mitoh
Many already know that slugs are quite resilient creatures to say the least, but scientists have discovered two sea slug species, Elysia cf. marginata and Elysia atroviridis, that can decapitate themselves and then proceed to grow new hearts as well as bodies. Biologist Sayaka Mitoh enjoys studying Japanese sea slugs because they can photosynthesize like a plant drawing food from the sun, but one day, she noticed a sea slug had decapitated itself and the head kept on moving and living. Read more for a video and additional information.

One contributing factor to their regeneration abilities may be due to when eating a certain type of algae they can photosynthesize their food from sunlight and oxygen, just like a plant. So, after decapitation, the head may act like a plant, turning a shade of green and receiving its energy from oxygen and sunlight.

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We think that this is the most extreme case of autotomy. Some animals can autotomize their legs or appendages or tails, but no other animal shed their whole body,” said Yoichi Yusa, doctoral student and Nara Women’s University aquatic ecology professor.