A leg for a tail

 
Published: Sunday 31 May 1992

-- A trick that Nature rarely performs is homeosis - the substitution of one body part by another. A team of zoologists at Utkal University, led by Prof Priyambada Mohanty-Hejmadi, became part of one such display when they discovered that even vertebrates can exhibit homeosis, which earlier was thought to be nomenon restricted to the fruit fly and some simple organisms. The team investigated the effect of Vitamin A being applied on the amputated tails of tadpoles of the marbled balloon frog. A significant number of the tadpoles had their amputated tail-ends transformed into hind limbs. It is almost as if the tail cells had forgotten what they were destined to become. Till now it had been believed that a vertebrate with one body part in another place could not survive the embryonic stage. The Orissa experiment will help biologists determine the what and the why of this still unknown phenomenon.

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