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Electric catfish self-immunity

For thousands of years, starting with detailed accounts from ancient Egypt, the African electric catfish (Malapteruridae) has been renowned for its ability to hunt and to defend itself with powerful electric shocks. Surprisingly, the degree to which electric catfish are protected against their own or external electric shocks, how specific any protection would be to the species-specific waveform and whether a discharging catfish has to actively prepare for the onset of its high-voltage discharges has never been analysed.

Source : Journal of Experimental Biology 2021 224 open access

Experiments conducted at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, in 2020, found that electric catfish appear to be immune to the effects of high intensity water-borne electric shocks - either from other members of their own species, or artificially generated.

How this is achieved is currently unknown.

Our findings rule out several protective mechanisms and demonstrate a highly efficient and versatile shielding whose nature is presently unclear.

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