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Electric rays

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westpier
1303353.  Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:27 am Reply with quote

Electric rays: the fish equivalent of dropping a hairdryer in a bathtub. Possibly the most electrosensitive of all electric fishes, they can give shocks of up to 220V.

The torpedoformes - or torpedo electric rays get their name from the latin "torpere", meaning "to stiffen or paralyse", and they were used as a numbing agent in ancient Greece and Rome during surgery.

Gout and headaches were also treated with shocks from electric rays - which at first seemed less legit than the numbing thing to me, but apparently in modern medicine, jolts of electricity can been used to dull chronic pain (apologies to Rpman physician Scribonius Largus for my intitial skepticism).

Before we worked out that electricity was a thing (let alone bioelectricity) it was thought to be pretty magical - Michel de Montaigne described the "cramp-fish" as posessing a miraculous force back in the 16th century. Knowledge of electric fish may have been a precursor to understanding electricity more fully, though. In the 15th century, the Arabic word for lighting "ra'ad" was applied to electric rays, so it seems like maybe they understood the same kind of zapping mechanism was going on between the two!


Went down a bit of an electric ray rabbit hole instead of collecting data on skates like I'm supposed to be doing, but would love to hear any more cool things about them if you know something! Big shout out to the batoidea, putting the super in superorder.

 
Jenny
1303438.  Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:50 am Reply with quote

Hi westpier and welcome to the forums - that's some great material there. I love the thing about being used as a numbing agent. We'll have to hang on to that for the S series.

 

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