Dolphins have amazing self-healing abilities

July 21st, 2011 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 21 (IANS) A dolphin’s ability to heal quickly from a shark bite, its resistance to infection and near-restoration of normal body contour has caught the attention of scientists.

Michael Zasloff, adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Medical Centre, interviewed dolphin handlers and marine biologists to offer new observations about what he calls the “remarkable” and “mysterious” ability of dolphins to heal.

“Much about the dolphin’s healing process remains unreported and poorly documented,” said Zasloff, who led the research, according to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

“How does the dolphin not bleed to death after a shark bite? How is it that dolphins appear not to suffer significant pain?

“What prevents infection of a significant injury? And how can a deep, gaping wound heal in such a way that the animal’s body contour is restored? Comparable injuries in humans would be fatal,” a Georgetwon release quoted Zasloff as saying.

Zasloff explained the dolphin healing process by synthesising scattered reports of known aspects of dolphin biology.

For example, he proposed the same diving mechanism that diverts blood from the periphery of the body during a dolphin’s deep plunge down in water depths also could be triggered after an injury. Less blood at the body’s surface means less blood loss.

As for pain, Zasloff’s review suggested the dolphin’s apparent indifference “clearly represents an adaptation favourable for survival”. Still, he said, the neurological and physiological mechanisms engaged to reduce pain remain unknown.

The prevention of infection is perhaps less of a mystery. Despite gaping wounds and deep flesh tears, those who observe dolphins following shark bites have not noted significant rates of infection.

Zasloff said it’s likely that the animal’s blubber holds key answers.

–Indo-Asian News service

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