The experimental study of amphibian limb regeneration spans most of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. We first review the major questions investigated over this time span: (1) the origin of regeneration blastema cells, the mechanism of tissue breakdown that liberates cells from their tissue organization to participate in blastema formation, (3) the mechanism of dedifferentiation of these cells, (4) how the blastema grows, (5) how the blastema is patterned to restore the missing limb structures, and (6) why adult anurans, birds and mammals do not have the regenerative powers of urodele salamanders. We then look forward in a perspective to discuss the many unanswered questions raised by investigations of the past century, what new approaches can be taken to answer them, and what the prospects are for translation of basic research on limb regeneration into clinical means to regenerate human appendages.
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