Nature Nugget – Regeneration In the Animal World

Some organisms have the ability, by a process known as regeneration, of reorganizing their tissues to replace sections of their bodies that may have been lost or damaged. Although this process is most prevalent among invertebrates, it occurs among some vertebrates as well. The most famous of the vertebrates having abilities of regeneration are the Urodeles.

The Urodeles, a class of animals which includes newts and salamanders, have the ability to regenerate morphologically normal limbs following amputation at any time throughout their lives. They can also regenerate their tail, heart muscle, jaw, spinal cord, and more.

Fishes are another group of vertebrates with well-known regenerative abilities. Most fish can regenerate their fins, retinas, and almost any part of their central nervous system including sections of the brainstem. Many, if not all, can regenerate their spinal cord axons. Among reptiles, only the lizards have regenerative abilities. They can regenerate their tails solely, but this has developed into a defense strategy for them. When captured, they lose their tail, which starts wiggling, distracting the predator and allowing them to escape.

Among the invertebrates, the starfish or sea stars are well known for their incredible regenerative abilities. Not only can a starfish regenerate a lost limb, but the lost limb itself has the ability to regenerate a whole new starfish! This is only possible, however, if the lost arm includes part of the central disc or main body of the starfish. Years ago, the fishermen in one coastal area hired scuba divers to dive down to the shellfish beds and break in half all the starfish they could find. Since the starfish competed with them for the shellfish, the fishermen, not knowing of the starfish’s great regenerative abilities, thought this would kill the starfish and solve the problem. The fishermen soon had double the population of starfish with which to contend!

A close relative of the starfish, the sea cucumber, is capable of regenerating most of its body parts, including its internal organs. As a result, it has developed, as a means of defense against predators, a phenomenon known as evisceration, in which the sea cucumber expels some of its major organs such as the gonads, intestine, and respiratory tract.

We, as sinners, are in need of regeneration or we shall be lost! “Regeneration is the only path by which we can enter the city of God. . . . The old, hereditary traits of character must be overcome. The natural desires of the soul must be changed.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 23. We must have a new heart and spirit! “Humanity has no power to regenerate itself. It does not tend upward, toward the divine, but downward, toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 73. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5. “Christ gave His life to secure for us this inestimable treasure [kingdom of God]; but without regeneration through faith in His blood, there is no remission of sins, no treasure for any perishing soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 112, 113. Just as the organisms mentioned above are able to regenerate lost or damaged parts, so Christ, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, can regenerate our sin-damaged, lost souls. “The work of regeneration must be wrought in the heart and conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . .” The Great Controversy, 233. “The Spirit is given as a regenerating agency, to make effectual the salvation wrought by the death of our Redeemer.” The Acts of the Apostles, 52.

David Arbour writes from his home in DeQueen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: