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Can a worm cut in half sense anything? © Getty Images

Can a worm cut in half sense anything?

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Cutting a worm in half is pretty brainless, but not as much as our earthy friends.

Asked by: Ben Harrison, Cranleigh

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Earthworms (Lumbricus terristris) are annelids and have a very simple nervous system, with a single nerve cord running the length of the body and side branches for each segment and no brain. If an annelid is cut in two, they can regenerate to some degree, and in some species you can even end up with two worms. The common earthworm, however, will only regenerate from the tail end; the head end always dies. The tail end that is left will still to be able to sense along its entire body, but the most sensitive sensory structures are located in the front-most segment, so its senses will be somewhat limited until this regenerates.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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