After animal regeneration (a form of asexual reproduction), does the original animal still exist? Or, as in mitosis, does the parent organism no longer exist?

1 Answer
Jan 14, 2017

A few thoughts...


This question reminds me of Plutarch's "Ship of Theseus" from "Lives of the noble Grecians and Romans":

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question as to things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

A similar question is raised by the more recent "grandfather's axe" paradox in which both the handle and the blade are replaced.

Is there such a thing as a fountain or is it just an idea, given that it is made up of different water at different times?

If the whole of the material that made up the original organism is replaced, is it still the same organism? If the material that makes one organism is reassembled into another form (e.g. caterpillar to butterfly), is it still the same organism?

These are perhaps more philosophical questions than scientific ones.