(full paper is archived in the Miller Library)
Title: Insulation stragies in the pacific electric ray Torpedo californica
Student Author(s): Rosenthal, Lara
Location: Final Papers Biology 175H
Date: June 1989
Keywords: nearshore fishes
Abstract: This paper explores three aspects of the Pacific electric ray Torpedo californica: the basic anatomy of this fish, how the torpedo insulates itself from its own shock, and whether the torpedo's electroreception can be used as a tool for learning. Using anatomical observations and skin resistance measurements, I set out to determine whether the torpedo's skin was different over the electric organs and non electric organ areas and how the torpedo insulates itself. I could find no difference in appearance, texture or color from the electric organ to non electric organ. I did, however, find that there are many more layers of connective tissue over and under non electric organ areas than over the electric organs. Furthermore, I measure the dorsal skin to have roughly twice the resistivity as ventral skin. I believe that the other important insulation tactics are use of cartilege to protect the brain, heart and nerves, connective tissue to protect peripheral nerves, and placement of muscles as far from the electric organs as possible. I have also described the placement of the ampullae of Lorenzini and applied Pavlovian conditioning techniques using the ampullae. During the time we tried to condition the torpedo, it was not responsive.