The evolution of vertebrate electrosensory systems

Brain Behav Evol. 1997;50(4):244-52. doi: 10.1159/000113338.


Sensory systems that detect weak electric fields initially evolved as a primitive vertebrate character and have subsequently been lost and 're-evolved' a number of times in various taxa. As such, they provide unique examples of evolutionary parallelism and convergence in vertebrate sensory systems. Electrosensory systems have additionally proven to be admirable models for investigating the fundamental strategies by which nervous systems interpret environmental signals as the basis for organizing behaviors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Electric Fish / anatomy & histology*
  • Electric Organ / innervation*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / anatomy & histology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Vertebrates / anatomy & histology*