Fans of the popular internet theory suggesting all birds are secretly government drones will be horrified and vindicated by the recent discovery that dolphins have electric sensing powers.
Electric Fields With Snouts
A recent write-up in Science Alert reported that the aquatic mammals can sense electric fields using their snouts, leaving scientists puzzled.
Studies conducted on captive dolphins from the Nuremberg Zoo confirm that both bottlenose and Guiana dolphins have the unique ability to sense electric fields, offering them a distinct advantage when searching for prey buried under the sand on the ocean floor.
Dolphin Sixth Sense?
Though the truth has only just been revealed, some scientists have hypothesized that dolphins contained this electromagnetic sixth sense for over a decade.
One explanation for the bizarre ability suggests that dolphins evolved electroreception as a means of stalking prey, in a process previously believed to be based on echolocation.
Though no other species on Earth has been documented to contain these powers, scientists have compared them to the ability of platypuses and echidnas.
Using Powers In The Wild
Dolphins are able to sense electromagnetic fields through a series of highly-sensitive pores along their long snouts, referred to as vibrissal crypts.
The holes sometimes serve as openings for juvenile whiskers to grow, but double as highly-sensitive pits, which can sense electromagnetic fields at 2.4-5.5 microvolts per centimeter.
While researchers have only conducted trials confirming these powers on dolphins in captivity, it isn’t difficult to see exactly how these abilities are utilized in the wild.
Dolphins are often found burying their heads in the sand deep under the ocean when searching for prey, and are surprisingly accurate when doing so.
Currents Are Minor But Important
This prey-seeking method functions due to the electric direct current fields emanated by fish breathing through their gills, forming alternating currents that can be sensed in the waves and the sand.
Though the currents are incredibly minor, dolphins seem to have evolved the ability to sense them from afar, as one of many highly effective hunting techniques called crater feeding.
In captive trials, dolphins from the Nuremberg Zoo were able to respond to controlled magnetic waves with an accuracy index of over 90 percent.
Not Just Echolocation
Scientists previously believed that dolphins conducted most of their hunting using echolocation, which would allow the mammals to detect objects as deep as 30 centimeters under the sand.
However, crater feeding often sees the dolphin burying its way past the snout and eyes into the depths of a sandbank, far beyond the capability of echolocation senses.
As scientists have continued to research the electromagnetic senses of these creatures, researchers have hypothesized that dolphins may even be able to right themselves alongside the Earth’s electromagnetic fields.
As scientists continue to learn more about the dolphin species, Earth has begun inching closer and closer to the reality presented by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy book series. That book recognizes dolphins as the second-smartest creatures on the planet, second only to mice, and one rung above humanity.
With any luck, mankind will be able to garner an understanding with these super-powered sea creatures, heeding their calls to arms for any doomsday messages that may arise.
If not, the dolphins may use their electromagnetic abilities to proclaim “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”