Forget Wolverine, starfish are the new self-healing superheroes.
By sheer happenstance, scientists discovered that the star-shaped echinoderms are able to remove deeply embedded foreign objects from their body and completely recover from the damage.
Two biology students conducting research on starfish were stunned when they realized the microchips they had injected into several starfish as tags were expelled within a few days. Like some magic act unfolding before their eyes, the microchip wandered around the starfish’s internal organs for a period of time and then was physically squeezed through the length of the arm and discharged at the tip.
Here it is on its way out...
...and here it is completely expelled.
"Every time we put a tag into a starfish, they rid themselves of the tag within a few days,” Frederik Ekholm Gaardsted Christensen and Trine Bottos Olsen, the two students from the University of Sweden, said in a release. “It came out directly through the skin; the starfish simply pushed it out through the skin at the end of one arm and then went on as if nothing had happened."
One of the most interesting aspects of this finding is that the starfish is not removing the object through the hole it was initially inserted. The microchip drifts within the body cavity among the internal organs and then the starfish pushes force onto the object in order to eject the item.
This is the first time this exceptional skill has ever been observed in an organism. In addition to being self-healing, starfish are also regenerative – so we may very well be looking at the next sea creature superhero. Move over, Aquaman!