For years biologists have studied salamanders for their ability to regrow lost limbs. However, no such regenerative capacity has been seen in mammals with the exception of a few tails.
“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,” said Ashley W. Seifert, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Florida’s biology department. “Skin, hair follicles, cartilage — it all comes back.”
Seifert used a 4mm biopsy punch, about the size of a large BB, to puncture holes in the ears of the mice to see if the animal showed regenerative capabilities.
“The results were astonishing,” he said. “The various tissues in the ear grew back through formation of blastema-like structures — the same sort of biological process that a salamander uses to regenerate a severed limb.”
Condensed and adapted from the University of Florida announcement.