Electric Fish Perform "Electric Duets"


Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Barbara-Anne......

According to a new study from Cornell University, African electric fish engage in a dueling performance of electric pulses when in courtship. Scientists had known that the fish emitted electric signals to explore their surroundings and communicate sex and social standing. This, however, was the first research comparing the electric emissions of breeding and non-breeding fish and sorting the fish's emissions based on their sex.

The fish use a battery-like organ in their tails to generate the weak charge. The researchers used custom software to separate and document the emissions based on the sex of the fish. Through video footage and the computer program they identified nine motor displays and eleven different pulse sequences common to courtship and mating.

Looks like we're going to have ourselves a bass-off!

The study was authored by Carl D. Hopkins, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell. Ryan Wong, who conducted the work with Hopkins as part of his undergraduate thesis, said "our study provides strong evidence that the 'rasp' [a certain electric signal] is a male advertisement call during courtship in this species," and added that the males also emit a lower frequency "creak" to woo suitors. Ooohh...hot!

More like this

tags: electric fish, Brienomyrus brachyistius, mormyrids, fish, behavior, evolution Image: JEB Biologists As they swim through their muddy riverine homes in east Africa, the African elephantfishes use a special organ at the base of their tail to produce weak electrical pulses that enable them to…
Electric fish, Brienomyrus brachyistius, produce tiny electric signals from an organ in their tails that can be used to communicate and convey social status. They can also be used attract a mate, as reported in a study by Wong and Hopkins in the Journal of Experimental Biology. (The ghetto picture…
Prey Not Hard-wired To Fear Predators: Are Asian elk hard-wired to fear the Siberian tigers who stalk them" When wolves disappear from the forest, are moose still afraid of them? No, according to a study by Wildlife Conservation Society scientist Dr. Joel Berger, who says that several large prey…
Although these fish look similar and have the same genetic makeup, they produce very different electrical signals (right) and will only mate with fish that produce the same signals. Cornell researchers believe that these different electrical signals are the fishes' first step in diverging into…