|MadSci Network: Evolution|
Dear TJ- Thank you for your fantastic questions! I had a lot of fun finding out more information on eels for you. First of all, let's talk about the moray eel, and then go on to the electric eel. The moray eel is a member of the class osteoichthyes. This literally means bony fish (osteo=bone and ichthy=fish). All of the bony fishes, from eels to seahorses to flounder and salmon, are ultimately descended from more primitive nonbony fishes, like sharks. If you'd like a more detailed answer, please e-mail me back and I'd be happy to tell you about it. :) There are also some fantastic pictures of moray eels on the web, if you want to take a peek at them. My favorite is: dive.kingston.net/pngmoray.htm Now onto electric eels (otherwise known as Electrophorus electricus to scientists). Electric eels live in murky habitats and use their electric shocks to protect themselves and catch prey. They can generate up to 600 volts of electricity (which is about 5 times as much electricity as comes out of a wall socket), which is enough to seriously stun or even kill a person. The way that they generate this electricity is fascinating. Most of the eel's body, which can range from 3-9 feet long, is taken up by a series of specialized cells called electrocytes. Each electrocyte acts like a little battery, but can only generate 80 millivolts. If you link up enough of these cells, though, like you link up a series of batteries to run a portable radio, the eel can deliver quite a shock. Electric eels have 5000-6000 of these specialized electrocytes, which take up most of the eels body. The head of the electric eel acts as the positive pole of the battery, the tail the negative end. When it touches its head and tail to its prey or to a predator, it delivers an electric shock. Electric eels have no teeth, so it helps the eel to swallow its food if the food is shocked and not moving. Some people even believe that electric eels use their electricity to communicate! I hope I've answered your questions, thank you for such good ones, and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask! Have a wonderful day! Ingrid Dodge :) email@example.com
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