Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fuckin Dolphins. How do they work?

I'm another of Shelby's new hacks. I'm holed up in Flagstaff, AZ studying biology, droppin mad science wif defiance. Here's some crazy developments in the wild world of biology: Dolphins have electroreception.


Absolutely necessary for living in space.
 
Electroreception is the ability to sense electrical fields in animals. Humans don’t really have this without the use of a fork in a wall socket (please don't try this). Sharks famously do, as do rays, electric eels some other Gymnotiformes and Monotremes (primitive egg laying mammals: platypus and echidnas) recently it has been discovered in dolphins. Sharks and other fish use the Ampullae of Lorenzini, gel filled pores derived from their lateral line. Monotremes use free nerve endings on their snout. Dolphins use what remains of their whiskers, left over from their terrestrial days.



Soon to come again…

It has been suspected that Guyana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) have the ability to sense electrical fields because they hunt on the seafloor where sediment can cloud the water, obscuring sight and echolocation. Additionally they have unusually large vibrissal cysts (modified whisker clusters) on their snout. If these were useless they would have withered in a similar fashion to what’s left of your tail. German researchers dissected vibrissal cysts in a dead (of natural causes, so they didn’t piss off PETA and Travis Ryan) Guyana dolphin. They found that the vibrissal cysts were not only surrounded by a capillary mesh instead of the blood sinus found in the whiskers of normal mammals, they also had a large amount of nerve endings: about 300 (in other mammals the number is about 80-200)


Closeup of vibrissal cysts

They also trained a captive dolphin to hold its head between two electrodes and react if a current passed through them. They found that the dolphin could react to stimuli of 4.6 µV cm−1 (much smaller to the field generated by a small fish)

This is a prime example of convergent evolution. This sense has been evolved separately at least 3 times by different groups of animals (fish, Monotremes and dolphins), each using different anatomical structures to accomplish the same task, like birds, bats and insects evolving flight separately. This study was published July 2011 and it appears that electroreception in dolphins and other cetaceans has not been studied further than the Guyana dolphins; perhaps your good old fashioned bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have this sense? How does this affect us? Not at all.
If you have any questions please put them in the comment and ill try to answer them the best I can. Hope you learned something.

-Judge Shredd

Get cited (you probobally will not be able to read the article without a liscence):

Czech-Damal, N. U., Liebschner, A., Miersch, L., Klauer, G., Hanke, F. D., Marshall, C., et al. (2011). Electroreception in the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) . Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences , doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1127.


 




Dang, three days in a row of new writers! More on the way, too... Anyhow, The Judge is pretty smart about science and whatnot, but don't worry, he likes metal, too. We look forward to his future contributions, whether they be based in biology or crippling shred. HAIL.



- Cobras

10 comments:

Reggie said...

Purely hypothetical situation: I'm locked in combat with hostile dolphin, it's only a matter of time until he wears me down and I'm defeated. Can I disable my enemy with a strong, focused electric pulse of some manner?

DoomUnicorn said...

More like this please. I was listening to that Ice Dragon song "Interspecies Communication" the other day; what's the deal with interspecies communication? Is that shit even real?

Helm said...

There's an article on 'fucking dolphins' and how that works that's at least as old as the internet somewhere if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Nice read, by the way. Write more.

Shelby Cobras said...

In regards to interspecies communication:

http://illogicalcontraption.blogspot.com/2010/01/guy-who-dropped-acid-and-talked-with.html

In regards to fucking dolphins:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/malcolm-brenner-dolphin_n_974764.html

Cory said...

world class first post!

Judge Shredd said...

Reggie-
You could disable their electroception ability with a focused pulse of electricity, or if the pulse was strong enough you could just plain old electrocute it.

Even without electroreception dolphins are still a formidable foe. they still have their eyesight and echolocation, so you better hope the water is turbid as fuck for you to have any chance. Or be on land.

Thanks for all the comments and support. Any requests? I was thinking about doing some metal posts and then something about the Cambrian Explosion.

Anonymous said...

What kind of idiot studies marine biology in Flagstaff? *laughing* You've been to Macy's one too many times today, brother.

Actually, the marine fossils in the Grand Canyon are amazing.

Nice first post! See if you can find any Primitive Tribes or Blackfire to share with the IllCon peeps!

Shelby Cobras said...

I've been to Macy's. Fucking hackey-sack-ass coffee shop.

Helm said...

Judge Shredd, test your metal, sir. Post about something you love as much as dolphins.

Judge Shredd said...

Never been to Macy's. Might hit it up this weekend. Not real big on coffee shops