back to article It came from space! Two-headed flatworm stuns scientists

A flatworm sent to the International Space Station has sprouted two heads, an anomaly that never happens in the wild, according to a paper published in the journal Regeneration. Flatworms may not look particularly interesting at first. But lop one to pieces and it’ll magically grow a new head and tail to become a different …

  1. Nolveys Silver badge
    Headmaster

    The process of regeneration is normally 100 per cetn accurate

    I'm not sure that statement is accuraet.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      The article lists a bunch of possible causes including weightlessness and vibration, but not radiation.

      Surely that's the most likely cause?

      After all, they will have been subjected to increased radiation by virtue of being taken into space.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        In another article I read they've tested radiation on Earth, and not seen this before.

      2. Graham Dawson

        Raed it again.

      3. smartermind

        Increased radiation can be easily simulated on earth.

      4. Richard 81

        Also the ISS is still protected by Earth's magnetosphere.

        1. Patrick R

          Re: Also the ISS is still protected by Earth's magnetosphere.

          Ain't it also a Faraday cage? There's a crew in there.

          1. Manolo
            Headmaster

            Re: Also the ISS is still protected by Earth's magnetosphere.

            A Faraday cage shields you from electromagnetic radiation, but not from ionizing cosmic radiation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even without the mistype, "normally 100%" is a very jarring statement in itself.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Even without the mistype, "normally 100%" is a very jarring statement in itself.

        Not really.

        I read it to show that in the vast majority of the time the process is perfect and a 1:1 copy is made, but sometimes it goes wrong and you get a 1:0.5 or even a 1:2 copy (ratios coming from the same place my breakfast is going in a couple of hours)

        "Normally, when you make a deposit into a bank account, 100% of the money goes into the account. However, if your bank is an Ozzie-owned "New Zealand" bank, you might only get 40% of the deposit, the rest being the draining of Kiwi money overseas very much sponsored by the government who ignore NZ owned banks in favour of foreign ones fees that are needed to keep the poor starving bank owners from dying of malnutrition".

        (</rant>)

  2. Field Commander A9

    Are you going to call it Kalvin?

    1. Vulch

      Nah, Zaphod.

  3. DNTP

    Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

    I mean how does it move which direction? Left? Right? Curl up and just come at you with two heads? Does it levitate or just phase through solid matter?

    If flatworms are split in half at the head end, they regrow two heads on one body. Goddamn I did not want to know about that, like ever. If they took this double ender and did that to each head, do they get a four headed worm? Eight heads? Sixteen heads? Cause that's roughly the number of hours I'm going to be too freaked out thinking about that to fall asleep tonight.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

      The Hydra is real!

      Hail Hydra.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

        I, for one, welcome our new two-headed flatworm overlords.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

        Sixteen sections all facing out flat worm, that would be one terrifying pizza.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

      I seem to remember this in introductory school biology textbooks.* Eeee!

      Make yer own two-headed flatworm!

      Gave me plenty of time to get used to the idea. Never did find any Planaria in ponds though-

      bang went my future NASA job, then...

      * Not in them these days? Do schools still use textbooks? Or books?

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

        "Do schools still use textbooks?"

        I suspect that they're still using the very same textbooks that you used.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Joke

          Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

          "Do schools still use textbooks?"

          I suspect that they're still using the very same textbooks that you used.

          Mine clearly stated that the Sun goes around the Earth. That's what I was taught and that's what I believe.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

          "I suspect that they're still using the very same textbooks that you used."

          I hope not I drew a n*b in mine.

          1. Daniel Jones 1

            Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

            I remember the textbooks we had in music when I was at secondary school.

            *every one of them* had penises drawn throughout, and when there was a woman on the same page, the penises were drawn to reach the women's nether regions. Additionally, the same comedians had written 'SLAP' across the foreheads of any bald/balding men in the books.

            *every one of them*

            So, yeah, the exact same textbooks you used when you were there. :)

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Yeah that's not creepy at all /s

            "I suspect that they're still using the very same textbooks that you used."

            I hope not I drew a n*b in mine.

            You put a picture of Trump in a text book?

        3. Scroticus Canis
          Big Brother

          Re: I suspect that they're still using the very same textbooks that you used.

          Yes, but with half the pages ripped out.

          Pretty sure my old A Level Chemistry books would now constitute literature "liable to be of aid to terrorists" as would the history books as they chronicle military methods and tactics.

  4. harmjschoonhoven

    Hm

    "The process of regeneration is normally 100 per cent accurate - they never make two-headed worms in the wild,"

    Two-headed Dugesia japonica can be bred with Praziquantel, a common deworming medication for cats and dogs.

    What's even more surprising is that even after the ends of the flatworm were chopped off, it always regrew with two heads.

    It would be interesting to see what happens if two-headed flatworms are regrown in a centrifuge. Russians grew crystals in microgravitity and in centrifuges with suprising results.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Hm

      I'd like to know how it survived without an anus. Was that why they kept chopping it in two again, to give it a chance to survive?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hm

        I'd like to know how it survived without an anus. Was that why they kept chopping it in two again, to give it a chance to survive?

        Under pressure..

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Hm

        Flatworms have no anus, they expel waste from their mouth.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Hm

          Flatworms have no anus, they expel waste from their mouth.

          I can see a number of "Proof that Key1 is an insect" jokes coming from this knowledge.

          1 Substitute name of politician or person of choice.

      3. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Hm

        I'd like to know how it survived without an anus

        Have you never listened to a politician? The mouth is the anus! (well, at least one of them anyway)

        Wonder how long before Apple claims to have invented it. After all it could very well use technology used in the HUMANCENTiPAD1

        1South Park, obviously. The education on classical literature in these parts can be seriously lacking! (episode also has some value as educational material for those who refuse to read T&Cs)

  5. katgod

    This may explain zaphod beeblebrox.

  6. katgod

    This may explain zaphod beeblebrox

    1. Mark York 3 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Didn't I Tell You Baby I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox

      Was that a double post or each head answering seperately?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Didn't I Tell You Baby I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox

        He hates it when one head is more drunk than the other...

      2. katgod

        Re: Didn't I Tell You Baby I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox

        That was one head not knowing what the other head was doing, a not so uncommon problem for the male of our species.

  7. Captain DaFt

    Isn't there an old saying?

    That goes something like:

    "Two heads are better for worm."?

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Boffin

    Two inputs, no output?

    I'm seeing this flatworm eating from both ends and with nowhere to poo, rapidly becoming a roundworm and the a balloonworm...

    Pop! Problem solved.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Two inputs, no output?

      Well there's a German word for what would likely happen. It's "Koterbrechen", and for the benefit of the readers I will not translate it.

      1. ridley

        Re: Two inputs, no output?

        https://goo.gl/r6yXQe

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Two inputs, no output?

          Upvoted on the assumption it's that ridiculous cop show with the "two idiots one keyboard" clip.

          Obviously something within the writers reached a poo overload and splattered in a manner expressed above. Probably on a per-episode basis.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Two inputs, no output?

      After I saw Dr Doolittle as a child, I always wondered how the pushmi-pullyu pooed.

    3. AIBailey Silver badge

      Re: Two inputs, no output?

      So more of a splatworm then?

  9. ACcc

    I for one...

    ...welcome our two-headed alien worm overlords

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Did a bloke called Hercules do the head cutting off?

  11. Timmy B Silver badge

    I suggest I new species....

    We perhaps give it the latin name Terrisium Mayicus. Decidedly two faced with a distinct lack of direction...

    1. Patrick R
      Pint

      Re: I suggest I new species....

      That one can't grow a head on the wrong end, cause 'Exit means Exit'.

    2. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I suggest I new species....

      We perhaps give it the latin name Terrisium Mayicus. Decidedly two faced with a distinct lack of direction...

      Unfortunately they have been present in the human genome for centuries, but we call them politicians and lawyers

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Learning by ingestion

    I seem to remember reading a long time ago, that scientists were investigating the fact that if a flat worm is fed bits of one of its brothers who had different behavioural patterns, the patterns would manifest in the ingester.

    Wierd creatures.,

    I suggest the two headed thing if it is repeatable should be call ' The Beeblebrox Effect', they could apply it to space crew to save weight while doubling brains on the job.

    Of course it could produce individuals who are either twice as smart or twice as stupid. Imagine a double Trump.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Learning by ingestion

      "Of course it could produce individuals who are either twice as smart or twice as stupid. Imagine a double Trump."

      The amount of crap that comes out of his mouth, obviously Trump is an experiment that went the other way - no head to speak of, but an arse at each end of his body.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Learning by ingestion

      Imagine a double Trump.

      Well, in that case they could simply use his ego as the space station, though it might take on dysonsphere proportions. The sort you'd need for a binary star system!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Imagine a double Trump."

    That prompted me to think of the personality of Zaphod Beeblebrox - only to find other people have already made that association elsewhere on the web.

    Sample of Douglas Adams's prescience - which also reminds me of Bojo:

    "One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn’t understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so — but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous.”

    1. Toltec

      "pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t be bothered to think"

      Guilty, particularly when asked a question with too little content to narrow the answer down to less than four possibilities.

  14. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Videos of two headed flatworm

    Flatworm regeneration:

    Two-headed planaria

    Whenever you think you've sussed The Rules in biology, somebody discovers an organism that breaks 'em.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Videos of two headed flatworm

      That's because biology is extremely messy. There are lots of very fiddly processes to poke with a stick and see what happens.

    2. Alister Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Videos of two headed flatworm

      Whenever you think you've sussed The Rules in biology, somebody discovers an organism that breaks 'em.

      Ahh, that made me think of the following - sometimes referred to as the Harvard Law of Animal Behaviour:

      "under strictly controlled experimental conditions of temperature, time, lighting, feeding, and training, the organism will behave as it damn well pleases."

  15. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    You fools! Kill it with fire!

    Haven't they seen the Life film this year? 'innocent' group of cells slaughters almost entire space crew! (haven't actually seen it, but it's a horror film, so there has to be a small number of survivors)

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: You fools! Kill it with fire!

      Haven't they seen the Life film this year?... [I] haven't actually seen it...

      Lucky you. I can save you 104 minutes of your life

      ...it's a horror film...

      you're not wrong

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: You fools! Kill it with fire!

      "haven't actually seen it, but it's a horror film, so there has to be a small number of survivors"

      Not always - I refer you to "The Thing"

  16. Alister Silver badge
    Boffin

    It's quite obvious

    In zero G the worm doesn't know if it's coming or going.

  17. Axman

    I feel sorry for it...

    ... but not as sorry as I feel for his little brother with two anuses.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: I feel sorry for it...

      Poor chap can't tell his arse from his elbow.

  18. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Boffin

    I'll see your two headed flatworm

    and raise you a two headed porpoise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll see your two headed flatworm

      Dualporpoise!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting possibilities

    Can we send Theresa May and DUP up there for a while, while we sort out the Brexit?

    Be interesting to see how many mouths are spouted and who devours whom !

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Interesting possibilities

      Be interesting to see how many mouths are spouted and who devours whom !

      FUCK YOU! That is one mental image I DID NOT WANT!

      Have the same image back in revenge! (is this a new form of "revenge porn"?)

  20. MatsSvensson

    !trrumP

    So its like the opposite of Trump?

  21. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
    Boffin

    What next?

    So when do we move on from animal testing to using politicians as subjects? No? Perhaps testing on other animals with regenerative abilities is next on the list.

  22. Zmodem

    to much methane probably

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