Israeli researchers recently discovered a unique ability of female locusts, Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel.
The findings, issued in the journal iScience last month, may contribute to new developments in regenerative medicine, as a basis for nerve restoration and the development of elastic synthetic tissues, TAU said.
The team found that during egg laying, female locusts are able to extend their abdomen, including the nervous system, to two to three times its original size.
This is possible thanks to the elastic properties of the creature’s central nervous system, allowing it to stretch up when laying eggs, without causing any irreparable damage.
The researchers noted that human nerves, for comparison, can stretch only up to 30 percent without tearing or being permanently damaged.
“As a female locust digs, it extends the body until sensors located along its body signal that a suitable point for depositing the eggs has already been reached,” explained TAU researcher Bat-El Pinchasik.
“Thus, an adult female, whose body length is about four to five centimeters, may, for laying eggs, stretch its body to a length of 10-15 cm, then quickly returns to its normal length”, she added.
“The superpower of locusts is an incredible ability that we don’t know of in any other animal,” said her colleague Amir Ayali.
“We hope that our findings will help to develop synthetic tissues with a high level of flexibility, and to restore nerves in regenerative medicine therapies,” he concluded.