Mechanoreception in Secondarily Aquatic Vertebrates

Guido Dehnhardt and Björn Mauck

in Sensory Evolution on the Threshold

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780520252783
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934122 | DOI:
Mechanoreception in Secondarily Aquatic Vertebrates

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This chapter discusses the structure and function of mechanosensory systems, particularly hydrodynamic sensory systems, in secondarily aquatic tetrapods. It suggests that secondarily aquatic tetrapods are sensitive to tactile information and are actively using mechanoreception for seeking information about their environment. It also describes how they use specialized tactile organs for hydrodynamic reception. These tactile organs include the touch papillae in reptiles to sense prey fish movements; the bill-tip organ of aquatic birds to detect buried prey in wet sediments; push rods in aquatic platypus, primarily associated with electroreception; and Eimer's organs in the skin of the snout of the star-nosed mole for the haptic detection and identification of prey systems. It also demonstrates the hydrodynamic receptor function of vibrissae found in aquatic mammals. Vibrissae of harbor seals, for example, respond to vibrations and are essential for detecting and tracking hydrodynamic trails.

Keywords: mechanosensory systems; hydrodynamic sensory systems; mechanoreception; touch papillae; bill-tip organ; push rods; Eimer's organs; vibrissae; hydrodynamic receptor; hydrodynamic trails

Chapter.  9756 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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