LONDON: Even the electric eel does not actually exist as an eel it surely has received the first part of its name. It depends on a system of electrical signals to catch its victim that are powerful enough to knock down a horse.
In fact, the property by which they operate is actually not much different than that of a taser, researchers from Vanderbilt University learned recently.
The electric eel uses three different types of electrical discharge – low voltage pulses, which allow them to perceive their environment and stalk prey; high voltage pulses given off in millisecond increments as they hunt; and high voltage, high frequency pulses that they use to catch prey or ward off predators. These signals can be observed reaching 4 feet in length under the water, and frequencies resonate once the eels target their prey, producing 400 pulses per second, as measured with the use of a fish tank.
Catania said he was struck by the similarity between the eel’s volley and a taser discharge. A taser delivers 19 high-voltage pulses per second while the electric eel produces 400 pulses per second. The volleys of electrical waves cause muscle contractions in the creature’s prey, rendering them helpless as they lose control – a shock that is produced by the eel’s motor neurons. Once the jolt finds a target, the eel is able to seize its prey immediately, often acting in a tenth of a second.
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