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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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Understanding the Shock Mechanisms: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey

Understanding the Shock Mechanisms: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey

(p.394) Chapter 26 Understanding the Shock Mechanisms: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on several related 20th-century developments. It examines how researchers achieved a modern understanding of nerve and muscle electrophysiology. It then discusses how this development affected thinking about the electric organs of strongly electric fish. Further, and in the same context, the chapter examines the specific anatomical and functional changes that make it possible for strongly electric fish to stun prey, ward off predators, and do other things that have allowed them to thrive in their different watery habitats. It is shown that more than some species of African catfish, one species of the so-called eel, and the family of sea torpedoes possess electric organs, since this discovery added needed color to the bigger evolutionary and physiological picture that is painted in the chapter. It begins by discussing a number of species of fish that are currently designated as “weakly electric fish”.

Keywords:   electric fish, electrophysiology, electric organs, nerve electrophysiology, muscle electrophysiology

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