A South American dolphin is the first “true mammal” to sense prey by their electric fields, scientists suggest.
The researchers first showed that structures on the animal’s head were probably sensory organs, then found it could detect electric fields in water.
Electroreception is well known in fish and amphibians, but until now the only mammal example was the platypus.
Writing in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings B, the scientists say other cetaceans may show the same ability.
The Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) lives around the east coast of South America, and resembles the much more common bottlenose variety.
Like all of the toothed cetaceans, it hunts and locates using sound.
But the researchers have now shown that at close range, it can also sense electrical signals.
They are not as sensitive as sharks and rays, but can detect signals of the same size as those produced in water when fish move their muscles. …