Dolphins are among the rare mammals who can see electricity

Not only do dolphins have insane healing powers, but it turns out that they're the only mammals who can detect electrical fields. Sure, I can detect an electrical field, but only using the excruciatingly painful touch-it-and-scream method. What we're talking about here is a special sensory organ for passive detection of electrical fields, better known as electroreception.

Photo by Petra Wezelman

Electroreception is found frequently in fish, sharks, lizards, and those oddball mammals known as platypodes, but up until now, it wasn't known whether other mammals could detect the electrical fields of their prey. Now, the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) takes that honor as another mammalian ambassador into the world of electroreception.

Dolphins are among the rare mammals who can see electricity

On the snout of the dolphin are rows of little holes, called hairless vibrissal crypts, which are remnant sensory organs normally associated with whiskers in mammals. Inside these crypts the dolphins have ampullary electroreceptors, allowing them to detect the electrical fields generated by animals around them.

While this ability hasn't been confirmed in any other dolphins, bottlenose dolphins have been known to search for food by rooting around in the mud, where electroreception would be very useful.

What's also mindblowing is that this sense has evolved from an organ that's present in almost all mammals, so we might start seeing it a bit more frequently now that we know it exists. Also, consider this discovery the first step towards a bio-hack of tomorrow - humans with electroreception organs installed in place of arm hair.