Scientists Put A Working Eyeball On A Tadpole's Tail
It's hard to say what's crazier: the fact that Tufts University researchers spent a year cutting out the tiny eyeballs of tadpole embryos and sticking them back on to the tadpoles' tails, or: the fact that, when they hatched, a few of the tadpoles COULD ACTUALLY SEE OUT OF THE EYES ON THEIR TAILS. As you know, this is not the way vision is supposed to work--your eyeballs are supposed to be connected to a big fat nerve that carries incoming signals back to your brain, which combines the information from both your eyes into a 3D picture of the world in front of you. Without that direct link to the brain, your eyeballs are useless. At least, that's the way scientists have thought about it for the last several centuries. But over the past few decades, experiments in animals and humans have repeatedly shown that the central nervous system--including the brain and spinal cord--is a lot more flexible and adaptable than people used to think it was. If one part of the brain gets damaged, for instance, the information that used to flow to the damaged sector is often re-routed, and another part of the brain takes on the job of processing it.