Letter | Published:

Transplantation of Heads of Insects

Nature volume 114, page 124 (26 July 1924) | Download Citation



IT may be of some interest to biologists if I supplement Dr. W. T. Caiman's letter under the title of “Chimæras Dire” (NATURE, July 5, p. 11) by a brief record of some experiments of my own. Not having any water-beetles available at the time, I tried to repeat Dr. Finkler's experiments on meal-worms. I cut off the heads of two pairs of specimens, and interchanged those of each pair. In a third case I had a single specimen which had recently moulted, and after removing its head put in its place that of another individual. The heads became attached to the alien bodies. I kept the specimens in Petri jars with a little meal. They made no spontaneous movements, but showed signs of life for a varying number of days, the maximum number being five. The signs of life in question were response to stimulation of the body with a blunt point. The head seemed to be dead long before the body. The only remarkable thing in the result of these experiments was the tenacity of life of the insect body after decapitation, and it may be doubted, especially after the results of Drs. Blunck and Speyer, whether anything more occurred in Dr. Finkler's experiments.

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