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How Do Sharks and Rays Use Electricity to Find Hidden Prey?

Imagine if you had six traditional senses instead of five: Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste and… What might you pick? Echolocation? Magnetoreception? How about electroreception?

Sharks, rays, skates and sawfish, Elasmobranchii, can detect the low frequency electric signals emitted by animals around them. The elasmobranchs’ Ampullae of Lorenzini allow them to sense the world in a completely different way than most other animals, including humans.

“We have discovered that sharks have electric sense only in 1966. That’s not even 50 years ago,” [Associate Professor of Biology Stephen] Kajiura says. “That’s a whole new sense that’s been discovered. It would be like us discovering vision for the first time only 50 years ago…”

“It’s a whole new sense. A whole new way of collecting information about the environment,” he says. “And there is so little work that’s done on this entire sensory system, that I think there is so much cool stuff we can do. Things we don’t even know about yet. Things we haven’t even imagined yet, I think are wide open.”

From KQED and PBS Digital Studios, this is Deep Look: How Do Sharks and Rays Use Electricity to Find Hidden Prey?

Next: Watch more from Deep Look and all kinds of ray videos.

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