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8. Brainless Frog
Usually you’d consider an animal dead once its brain or head is removed, but that isn’t quite the case with frogs.
Like other animals on this list, dead frogs still exhibit much of the same behavior found in their living counterparts. In experiments where scientists removed the brains from frogs, they found that the frogs could still hop, swim in water, move away when touched and reorient itself if turned upside down. They could even croak when their back was stroked!
The main difference between the living and dead behavior of frogs is the lack of spontaneous movement. Whereas living frogs might move around randomly, these dead frogs only move in reaction to external stimuli. This is because the anatomy of frogs is relatively simple compared to humans and so their reflexes can essentially run the whole frog without any input from the brain.
However, scientists noticed that if the body wasn’t exposed to any stimuli, the body would just sit there without moving indefinitely. Strange huh?
You may have heard the myth that cockroaches will be the only thing left after a nuclear blast, but just how durable are they really? Would you have guessed that they can survive not hours or even days without a head, but weeks?
You heard that correctly, they can live for weeks! This is because unlike humans, cockroaches have an open circulatory system which is relatively low pressure. So they wouldn’t bleed out like a human might because their necks would seal itself before that happened.
They also wouldn’t run out of air like a human would because they breathe through little holes in their body segments called spiracles. These tubes bring blood directly to their tissue rather than having to circulate oxygen throughout their body.
Finally, one of the key reasons they can continue to live without a head for weeks is because of the clumps of nerve tissue located throughout their body called ganglia. Think of these as small brains that help maintain some of the body’s functions and reflexes.
In fact, the only real limiting factors for headless cockroaches are their inability to eat or drink. Even then, roaches can go quite some time without taking in any nutrients. They’ll dehydrate before they ever starve to death, so it’s almost like food isn’t much of a factor anyway! So don’t be too scared if you see a decapitated cockroach running around. It may take a couple of weeks, but it will die eventually.
6. Headless Snakes
Snakes can be scary enough on their own, but coupled with the ability to remain lethal even after death, can make them even more terrifying!
Many venomous snakes have been known to retain their nerve functions, brain activity, and reflexes hours after death. This is even true after complete decapitation!
The bodies can be seen slithering and rising off the ground as if it were still alive. Meanwhile, the head may lash out and bite at anyone who happens to get too close. So if you’ve decapitated one, be careful! It might just try to take you down with it.
How is this possible? Well, because reptiles are ectothermic (or cold-blooded) they have a much slower metabolism, which allows them to sustain their organs longer after being decapitated. Furthermore, the fact that the venom glands are stored in the head means that they have full access to their deadly bites while decapitated. Some snakes, like rattlesnakes, also have heat-sensitive pits in the front of their face, allowing the head to sense when you get close so it can strike!
So remember to be careful around snakes whether they are alive or dead. Or they might just come back to bite you in the end.
5. Heartless Turtles
Considering that many turtles are amphibious creatures, they need to be dynamic in order to survive. In some ways, they are versatile enough to survive after death.
Take the loggerhead musk turtle, for instance; it has been documented diving for up to 5,000 hours before surfacing for air. For most animals, even aquatic ones, that would be long enough without air to keel over. However, it is a fairly typical task for the turtle.
However, it’s not their living functions that give them their place on this list, but the ones that happen after death.
They have been known to have their heart beat for up to an hour after being completely removed from the body. Or even for days if left in the body! One study dissected a turtle and refrigerated it, leaving the heart inside the body, and it continued to beat for 5 days! Now that is just miraculous! (Although I don’t know what kind of people are performing these kinds of experiments. It sounds pretty brutal!)