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Sensory mucous glands detect prey: platypus

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The bill of a platypus are highly sensitive to movement of invertebrate prey thanks to electroreceptors in their mucus glands. / ┬ęShuttersto.. / LicenseCopyright - All Rights Reserved

The bill of the duck-billed platypus aids in the detection of prey via large sensory mucous glands that act as electroreceptors.

BIOMIMICRY TAXONOMY
Summary
"Both platypus and echidnas possess electroreceptors in their bill to detect weak electric fields generated by the movements of invertebrate prey. The electroreceptors are large sensory mucous glands that are distributed over the entire surface of the platypus bill, and are restricted to the tip of the echidna's bill." (Fowler and Miller 2003:279)

"A platypus -- which closes its eyes, ears, and nostrils when diving -- hunts by being sensitive to the electrical impulses produced by its prey. Tiny electroreceptors cover the platypus's bill. They are linked to the trigeminal cranial nerve, in contrast to electrosensitive fishes whose receptors are linked to the auditory cranial nerve." (Shuker 2001:57)
About the inspiring organism
Platypus
Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Habitat(s): Forest, Wetlands
Learn more at EOL.org
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_LC IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Detecting muscle movement, and response to therapy. Using sensors that change electrical component, thus allowing sensor to alert monitor. Security devices at utility sub-stations, protective structures for electronics, cell towers, etc., to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Medical imaging, utilities, sensors, health

References
Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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Fowler, ME; Miller, RE. 2003. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.
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