Today’s Electricity in Nature post is about those most enigmatic of creatures, electrical animals!
The majority of animals that use electricity as a means of defense or electrolocation are found underwater, with a few exceptions such as the oriental hornet:
If you get the heebie jeebies just thinking about bees, it’s best to stop reading….. now.
The oriental hornet is sometimes described as a “living solar cell”. The thick yellow stripe across its abdomen (composed of a substance called xanthopterin, say that three times fast) is thought to convert the sunlight into electrical energy, although scientists are still unsure of exactly what biological mechanisms are in place, that this could occur.
Electric current has also been discovered within the silk surrounding the pupae and even the comb walls within which the hornets live- the current seems to exist for the purpose of regulating temperature (essentially an electrically-powered incubator!)
There are even indications that the metabolism of the oriental hornet depends more on sunlight than on food. Yes, you heard that right…. photosynthesis, just like a plant.
So, if you weren’t afraid of the buzzy winged insects before…. just ponder electrical sun-powered hornets for a while.
Moving on to some comic relief, let’s discuss the elephantnose fish (whoever named this animal apparently wasn’t having a particularly imaginative day).
A teeny little guy popular amongst aquarium enthusiasts, the elephantnose fish (I’m going to work that entire word into this post as much as possible) was probably made fun of in fish school, but his gargantuan schnoz hides a sneaky secret: electricity.
A secret: I haz it.
Elephantnose fish have very poor eyesight, and the electricity generated in their “trunk” is used primarily to help them get around and to pick up distortions in the electrical field, which alert the elephantnose fish to the presence of prey (such as bloodworms. Yum.) Adorably, the frequency and strength of the electrical pulse varies according to the fish’s mood, and can even be picked up audibly:
The weak electrical impulses generated by this fish can be made audible by placing two electrodes in the fish tank, which are then hooked up to an audio amplifier or a piezoelectric earbud. The sonar-like clicks that this fish emits can sound like a squeaky door when the fish is excited. (Source)
Check out the video to hear the clicking sound of the elephantnose fish.
Photo credit: Fishtanks and Ponds
And what list of electrical animals would be complete without a little crytpozoology? Let’s talk about that little fellow who is always the life of the party, the Mongolian Death Worm!
The existence of the Mongolian Death Worm has never been proven, but anecdotal evidence in Mongolia has been too pervasive to entirely ignore. Described as anywhere from 2 to 5 feet long and mostly resembling a large red chunk of intestine (sorry, I hope you weren’t eating) and sometimes said to have spiked or speared projections at both ends. In addition to the rumor that it spits or sprays a toxic corrosive acid as a defense mechanism, it is said that the worm can emit an electrical discharge that can kill prey from several feet away.
Many expeditions have been launched to search for this odd creature, and it seems that nearly all Mongolians know the mythos of the creature despite never having encountered it themselves, yet still there is no physical evidence of the worm. Some researchers think that the reported sightings probably involved normal burrowing reptiles, and the legend grew into something more fantastical over time. A giant red electrically-charged acid-spewing intestine worm? I’ll take electric hornets any day.
Photo credit: io9.com
3D Electrical is very responsive and they provide a high level of quality at a fair price. I would recommend them for any small or large project. —