Shocking Eel

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Have you always wanted an electric personality? People are attracted to others with energy, but somehow that hasn’t helped to make the electric eel more popular. Even so, God gave this animal what it needed to survive.

Electric eels are both electroreceptive and electrogenic in that they can detect electrical fields and generate them. An eel can hunt its prey undetected by measuring subtle changes in its own electrically generated field (electroreceptive). It then immobilizes the prey with a powerful electric shock (electrogenic).

Most of an eel’s body is made up of organs involved in making and storing the electrical charge. Using separate organs, it generates electricity from food by charging cells called electrocytes, in much the same way that muscles generate energy, and then stores it for later zapping of prey.

Just about everyone has the same questions about electric eels. How does the eel keep from electrocuting itself while it shocks its food?

Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they have some theories. First, the eel’s brain is located far away from the electric-producing organs and is insulated with fatty tissue. The animal’s skin also seems to have insulating properties. Some scientists also think there might be an internal switching mechanism for the eel to turn off its own electricity during mating.

Are the complex electrical organs in this animal the result of random chance mutations? It’s hard for me to believe that mutations would have come about simultaneously to generate electricity, store it in a specialized organ and develop measures to protect the eel from shocking itself. For supposedly random mutations, that sounds pretty purposeful. When I look at the electric eel, I see a perfectly designed creature made by God, even if we don’t completely understand it.

What do you think? Is the electrical system of the eel evidence of design? Or did small mutations add up to one shocking creature?

 

 

Reference: Stratham, Dominic. “Stunning and Stealthy: the amazing electric eel.” Creation 36(1), 2014, p.29.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/table4five/1285873218/”>Elizabeth/Table4Five</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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