Electroreception in monotremes

J Exp Biol. 1999 May;202(Pt 10):1447-54.


I will briefly review the history of the bill sense of the platypus, a sophisticated combination of electroreception and mechanoreception that coordinates information about aquatic prey provided from the bill skin mechanoreceptors and electroreceptors, and provide an evolutionary account of electroreception in the three extant species of monotreme (and what can be inferred of their ancestors). Electroreception in monotremes is compared and contrasted with the extensive body of work on electric fish, and an account of the central processing of mechanoreceptive and electroreceptive input in the somatosensory neocortex of the platypus, where sophisticated calculations seem to enable a complete three-dimensional fix on prey, is given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Electrophysiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Neural Pathways
  • Phylogeny
  • Platypus / physiology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology