Micro Life Zone
Asked by carlostaylor21 to DJ, Kyler, Mia, Mick, Peter on 29 Aug 2013.
Keywords: barb, electricity, stingray
Stingrays do not produce electricity; you are thinking of electric eels. Stingrays live in the sea which is salt water and conducts electricity quite well, so you are right, they would short-circuit.
Electric eels live in fresh water, which does not conduct electricity very well. They have special organs which can generate enough electricity to kill a person.
I think the current flows from the eel through the person and into the ground at the bottom of the river.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_eel will tell you more about them. Strictly, they are not eels but fish.
Stingrays don’t produce electricity. Their barb sting (near tail) connects to a venom gland that triggers if they are stepped on.
Electric rays, on the other hand, have been known to produce an electric discharge from 8-220 volts to stun prey and defend themselves. They live in shallow salt water coastal environments and use their electricity to stun and catch unsuspecting prey.
Wikipedia offers this explanation about their electricity:
“The electric ray is considered the most electro-sensitive of all animals. Their eyes are situated on the top of their head, resulting in poor vision that must be compensated for with the use of other senses, including the detection of electricity. Many species of rays and skates outside the family of the electric ray have electric organs located in the tail; however, the electric ray possesses two large electric organs on each side of its head, where current passes from the lower to the upper surface of the body. The organs are governed by four central nerves from each side of the electric lobe, or specialized brain lobe, which is of a different color than the rest of the brain.
The main nerves branch repeatedly, then attach to the lower side of each plate in the batteries, which are composed of hexagonal columns, in honeycomb formation: each column consists of 140 to half a million gelatinous plates. In marine fish, these batteries are connected as a parallel circuit where freshwater batteries are found in series, transmitting discharges of higher voltage, as fresh water cannot conduct electricity as well as salt water.
It is with such a battery that an average electric ray may electrocute larger prey with a current of up to 30 amperes and a voltage of 50 to 200 volts, a similar effect to dropping a mains-powered hair dryer into a bathtub.”
My answer isn’t about animals that produce electricity, as @Peter and @Mia have that covered, but mine is about animals that can sense electricity like you can taste or hear things in the world.
This special animal sense is called ‘electroreception’. Most animals that can do this live in water, or around water like frogs; but also echidnas, bees, cockroaches and the platypus!
It can work in 2 ways. Animals either make their own electric fields and it can ‘feel’ things in their area when this field changes. Some of these animals are the same animals that make electricity like @Peter and @Mia have talked about.
The other way is for animals to just ‘listen’ for electricity. Many of these animals including sharks can use this sense to find their prey. All animals have a little eletricity buzzing around in their body (including us) which is how we allow our brain to communicate with out muscles.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2020