Sharks have nose for heat and cold, according to a report in Nature Science Update, and ScienceNOW, 30 January 2003.
Sharks are “the most temperature sensitive creatures we know,” says Brandon Brown, a physicist at University of San Francisco who studied electrical conductance of gel from pores in the sharks’ snouts called ampullae of Lorenzini. He found that warming the gel by a fraction of a degree caused a change in its electrical conductance which would be picked up by electrically sensitive nerve cells that surround the gel filled pores. This enables sharks to detect tiny changes in water temperature around them – maybe as little as one thousandth of a degree Celcius.
When more is known about the gel, electronic engineers may be able to use it with temperature sensitive circuits in semi-conductor and micro-electronics industries.
Editorial Comment: Using shark gel in the semiconductor industry will require some creative intelligence and manipulation, as did the shark’s temperature sensitive pores in the beginning. So much for the shark being a “primitive” creature.
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