Humans and other mammals are generally very limited when it comes to regeneration, but one mammal, the African spiny mouse, can heal wounds much faster than lab mice can, which drew the attention of Ashley Seifert, a regeneration biologist at the University of Florida at Gainesville.
"Mammals have no problem regenerating blood cells or epidermis, or regrowing hair that is plucked out," Seifert said, "but following injury, like the severing of a finger, mammals generally just seal off the wound site and produce scar tissue.
"Compare that to salamanders, who can regenerate entire pieces of tissue
on the sides of their bodies, not to mention arms, legs and their brain," Seifert told LiveScience.
Furthermore, in mammals, "in general, the ability to regenerate
also declines with age," Seifert said. "Newborn humans can actually regenerate a very small piece of the fingertip, but this ability is lost during childhood development."
Given the general limits of mammals when it comes to regeneration, Seifert was fascinated by tales of the African spiny mouse. While vigorous movement could peel off up to 60 percent of the skin off the backs of these rodents, they could quickly heal these wounds and regrow spiny hairs that covered the lost skin.