We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Sea Cucumber’s Bizarre Defense Mechanism?

By Kevin Hellyer
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Despite its name, the sea cucumber isn't a cucumber at all. It’s not a vegetable or even a plant. It’s a spineless marine animal, somewhat similar to starfish and sea urchins, but without the hardened calcium exoskeleton. Along with its unusual appearance, the sea cucumber's most notable feature is arguably its defense mechanism: When threatened, this soft and squishy creature will eject its intestines through either its mouth or anus, depending on the species. It literally spills its guts.

Perhaps even more bizarre is the fact that a sea cucumber can regrow those intestines in just a couple of weeks. In 2017, researchers successfully sequenced the creature’s genome to find out how they do that.

Way more interesting than a "real" cucumber:

  • Researchers found two sets of genes that could be responsible for the sea cucumber's regenerative abilities. They also determined that sea cucumbers evolutionarily split off from their cousins – sea stars and sea urchins – about 479 million years ago.

  • The main focus of the research was to better understand these animals and their role in human consumption. Some Chinese restaurants use sea cucumbers in their delicacies, either dried or deep-fried, and the animal is bred at commercial fisheries.

  • In addition, researchers hope to learn more about the sea cucumber’s ability to re-grow body parts, which might someday have applications in regenerative medicine for humans.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.