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Headless cockroaches are alive?

  1. Jul 7, 2003 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    In a currently running Orkin (pest control) commercial, it is claimed that a cockroach can live for week with its head cut off. Assuming this statement is correct, is such a headless beastie really alive?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2003 #2
    It presumably still responds to stimuli, albeit reaction responses. Hence, I believe that it will be still be alive in a way comparable to plants being alive.
  4. Jul 7, 2003 #3
    I heard that fact on animal planet. The only reason it dies is it can't drink water with no head.
  5. Jul 7, 2003 #4
    Do you believe it was consciously alive when it had a head? Computers respond to stimuli. Are they alive?
  6. Jul 7, 2003 #5


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    This is kinda a philosophical question. If your head is severed, your heart will stop almost instantly and you will therefore die almost instantly. If you cut the head off a chicken, its heart will continue to beat until it runs out of blood and unitl that time, the chicken will still be able to move (hence the euphemism). Its probaby about the same for a roach. Its not that it really stays alive, it just takes longer to die.
  7. Jul 7, 2003 #6
    Do you think it was consciously alive before it had its head
    chopped off, or are cockroaches just robots that do as theyre

    People can think, reason, understand and question.
    So can apes and dolphins to an extent.

    Amoeba on the other hand are really just little machines,
    unable to think, reason, experience emotions etc.

    Where do we draw the line between intelligent life, and just life?
  8. Jul 7, 2003 #7
    you think headless cockroaches are impressive? check this out.
  9. Jul 8, 2003 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    So the only function for a cockroach's head and brain is to operate a mouth so it can drink? Perhaps their brains are not all in their heads?

    By the way, I know the chicken story is basically true.

    I remember reading an article about an AI guy at MIT [I think]. He makes mini robots that emulate insects. For example, each leg is a low level brain that, in order for the robot to learn to walk, must learn to work with the other legs somehow. Perhaps this analog was more literal than I realized?
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2003
  10. Jul 8, 2003 #9
    If a computer passes the turing test, is it a human?
  11. Jul 8, 2003 #10
    As I remember from my biology classes, the insects don't have a central nervous system. However a specialist's opinion would be apreciated...
  12. Jul 8, 2003 #11
    It is very skeptical and I won't believe it unless I can see it myself. First, chicken is a bird, which is warm-blooded and the function of its brain is more or less the same as that of human. If a chicken can live without a head, we humans can do the same also.
    Second, it will lose lots of blood and will die in a minute or 2. The main blood vessel which supplies blood to the brain is in the neck.
    Third, the brain controls heart beats, breathing and movements. I do wonder how it could walk around without a head.
  13. Jul 8, 2003 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Hey KL, The key to this was that the entire brain was not removed. The top of the head was cut, but enough was left for the thing to live. Really his face was cut off more than his head.
    I have seen film of this bird in action.
  14. Jul 8, 2003 #13
    I see.
    I saw the chicken's head was put on a table(the last picture), that's why I thought the head was cut out, together with the brain.
  15. Jul 8, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    After looking more closely at the pictures, I should add that I don't know about that particular web site. I do know that such a chicken did really exist during the time that is indicated. I think some of these pictures have been faked. One write up that I read clearly indicated that part of the brain was left attached. I have also seen film footage that clearly showed this to be true. I'm not sure what to think about this site. Perhaps there has been more than one chicken that lost her head but not her mind.
  16. Jan 6, 2004 #15
    grafted head

    A collegue told me that in high school they showed a science film about cockroaches. In particular, it showed an experiment in which the legs and top of the carapice were removed from one cockroach and the body grafted onto a headless cockroach also with the top of its carapice removed; in time, the resulting headless roach was able to walk around under control of the grafted legless body.

    This seems a bit farfetched, but what do I know about reinnervation in cockroaches?
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