Sensory systems in sawfishes. 1. The Ampullae of Lorenzini

B. E. Wueringer, S. C. Peverell, J. Seymour, L. Squire, S. M. Kajiura, S. P. Collin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The distribution and density of the ampullary electroreceptors in the skin of elasmobranchs are influenced by the phylogeny and ecology of a species. Sensory maps were created for 4 species of pristid sawfish. Their ampullary pores were separated into pore fields based on their innervation and cluster formation. Ventrally, ampullary pores are located in 6 areas (5 in Pristis microdon), covering the rostrum and head to the gills. Dorsally, pores are located in 4 areas (3 in P. microdon), which cover the rostrum, head and may extend slightly onto the pectoral fins. In all species, the highest number of pores is found on the dorsal and ventral sides of the rostrum. The high densities of pores along the rostrum combined with the low densities around the mouth could indicate that sawfish use their rostrum to stun their prey before ingesting it, but this hypothesis remains to be tested. The directions of ampullary canals on the ventral side of the rostrum are species specific. P. microdon possesses the highest number of ampullary pores, which indicates that amongst the study species this species is an electroreception specialist. As such, juvenile P. microdon inhabit low-visibility freshwater habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • electroreception
  • pristidae
  • sawfish
  • rostrum
  • Ampullae of Lorenzini


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