Photo of the Day
Photo credit: Antoni Emchowicz
This photo shows fantastic clarity! You can even see the ampullae of Lorenzini on the shark’s snout! The ampullae of Lorenzini are small electroreceptors that are part of a sensory network that lies right beneath the shark’s skin. To the naked eye they appear as small dark spots or pores around the head. This sixth sense detects minute magnetic fields in the water. How is this an advantage to a predator? Well, living creatures create small electrical pulses (called “potentials”) that are generated by muscle contractions. Even when lying still there is a muscle hard at work in every body- the heart! Sharks can sense the electricity generated by a beating heart to help locate prey whether they are buried in the sand or hiding in a kelp forest. Our earth also has its own magnetic field, which we use to find the directional points of a compass (North, South, East, West). Researchers hypothesize that sharks use the earth’s field to navigate the ocean the same way, using their sixth sense as an ‘internal compass.’ The ampullae also has a gel-like substance that gives the pores properties, similar to a semiconductor. Scientist believe the ampullae can translate temperature changes into electrical information, allowing the shark to detect temperature gradients in the water.
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