The shocking predatory strike of the electric eel.

Abstract

Electric eels can incapacitate prey with an electric discharge, but the mechanism of the eel's attack is unknown. Through a series of experiments, I show that eel high-voltage discharges can activate prey motor neurons, and hence muscles, allowing eels to remotely control their target. Eels prevent escape in free-swimming prey using high-frequency volleys to induce immobilizing whole-body muscle contraction (tetanus). Further, when prey are hidden, eels can emit periodic volleys of two or three discharges that cause massive involuntary twitch, revealing the prey's location and eliciting the full, tetanus-inducing volley. The temporal patterns of eel electrical discharges resemble motor neuron activity that induces fast muscle contraction, suggesting that eel high-voltage volleys have been selected to most efficiently induce involuntary muscle contraction in nearby animals.

DOI: 10.1126/science.1260807

Extracted Key Phrases

4 Figures and Tables

01020201520162017
Citations per Year

Citation Velocity: 8

Averaging 8 citations per year over the last 3 years.

Learn more about how we calculate this metric in our FAQ.

Cite this paper

@article{Catania2014TheSP, title={The shocking predatory strike of the electric eel.}, author={Kenneth C. Catania}, journal={Science}, year={2014}, volume={346 6214}, pages={1231-4} }