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Researchers examine electroreception in early vertebrates


Sharks, as well as a number of other living primitive fishes, have the amazing ability to detect electric fields in their surroundings. This characteristic -- called electroreception--is thought to be one of the earliest vertebrate sensory systems to appear, but its origins are mysterious. In the journal Palaeontology, investigators have now reviewed the evidence for all putative electroreceptors in early vertebrates.

The researchers applied CT scanning to some of the earliest vertebrate fossils, revealing that early members of the bony fish group already had sophisticated electroreception systems.

"Specialized electroreceptor systems, including elaborated 'pore group' pits in Devonian lungfish and rostral organs in the earliest coelacanths, show that electroreception may have had an important role in niche specialization in early vertebrates," said lead author Dr. Benedict King, of Flinders University, in Australia.


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Full Citation

"Electroreception in Early Vertebrates: Survey, Evidence and New Information." Benedict King, Yuzhi Hu, and John A. Long. Palaeontology; Published Online: February 12, 2018 (DOI: 10.1111/pala.12346).

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Author Contact

Dr. Benedict King, of Flinders University, at

About the Journal

Palaeontology is the journal of the Palaeontological Association and covers a wide variety of palaeontological subjects. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the Palaeontological Association. For more information, please visit the journal home page at

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