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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A true 'no brainer.' Cockroaches can survive headless!

Next time your friends call you a cockroach, don't be mad. You're apparently one tough cookie. Scientists are truly amazed at the amazing resilience of the lowly cockroach. Not only are they the most likely species to survive a nuclear disaster, they can do it without even thinking about it, or at least without a head. For weeks....

What makes these bulldogged beetles and other insects able to survive decapitation while we two legged types can't survive the day without a cappuccino? It a body thing, explains Joseph Kunkel, physiologist and biochemist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He's studied cockroach development and has noted some important facts that prove they're really different than us.

When we loose our heads, the drop in blood pressure, oxygen and nutrients become fatal. Oh, and the blood loss is key. "You'd bleed to death," says Kunkel. Cockroaches, on the other hand, don't have a complex veinal nextwork that needs a lot of pressure to move blood through. "They have an open circulatory system, which there is less pressure in." Proving that a cockroach at the wheel in rush hour traffic might be a safer bet than your best friend. Cooler heads would prevail. "After you cut their heads off, very often their necks would seal off just by clotting," adds Kunkel.

In laboratory experiments performed at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., entomologist Christopher Tipping discovered that American cockroaches could survive for several weeks in a jar after having their heads removed and the wound sealed with dental wax. Also, being that roaches are cold blooded, they need less food than warm blooded humans do, contributing to their relative biological oneupmanship and natural thrifty tendencies.

But don't up your dose yet, my beleaguered San Francisco reader. Even roaches have shortcomings. So what with their mensa level memory and their sensorially intricate bodies, so keen even Spider Man would be envious. The brain still needs the input. University of Arizona neuroscientist, Nick Strausfeld, a specialist in bug learning, tells us that roaches need to be whole to really keep it all together. "When we've tried to teach them when they had bits of them missing, it's hopeless. We have to keep their bodies completely intact." Still, they need their heads like we do but on the whole body thing, we beat the bugs on that. Just ask the ADA folks.

So, it's not so bad being human after all. But don't get it twisted. If you loose a toe nail, you can't claim that you forget, like roaches do. You're still on the hook for Valentine's Day.


About the Writer

Kim Randolph is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on A true 'no brainer.' Cockroaches can survive headless!

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By Kim Randolph on March 17, 2007 at 12:07 pm
Liked the article. Great sense of humor. Keep it up!
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By Ariel on March 17, 2007 at 01:45 pm
So wait, they continue walking around without their heads? It doesn't bother them at all?
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By Defenestrator on June 06, 2007 at 02:16 am
Well written, perfect tone, and surprisingly interesting. And it involved actual journalism (unlike most of the articles I've come across so far). Thank you.
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By Sofronia88 on June 20, 2014 at 04:24 am

So well done article sukienka na lato

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