Unusual Organs found in Animals

Humans are one of the most advanced forms of life on earth. We possess extremely developed senses, efficient systems to handle bodily functions, and an intelligence incomparable to anything else in the animal kingdom. However, members of the animal kingdom possess specialized organs that perform functions never seen before in humans.

 Ampullae of Lorenzini

This particular organ is found in cartilaginous fish such as sharks and stingrays. It helps with a biological phenomenon called electroreception. Electroreception is where an organism can sense natural electrical fields. This ability is found predominantly in marine animals because water is a better conductor of electricity. Anatomically, the organ is essentially a network of jelly-filled pores found near the head of the organism. They are visible as dark spots on the underside of the snout in most sharks. So how do sharks use this organ?

Every animal gives off an electric field due to muscle contractions caused during movement. These faint electric fields can be picked up by the Ampullae of Lorenzini, essentially helping the sharks to find their prey. Apart from hunting, the organ is also thought to help with sensing surrounding the temperature gradient. However, there is not enough evidence to substantiate the same.

 Jacobson’s Organ

Jacobson’s organ, also called the vomeronasal organ, is an organ found in snakes. It mainly works as a “sensing organ”, or more scientifically, chemoreception. Chemoreception is a physiological process where an organism responds to chemical stimuli. The Jacobson’s organ is present even in the human body, but it is non-functional (vestigial).

The Jacobson’s organ is primarily used to detect pheromones and chemicals. Pheromones are scent given off by some animals for communication. It can be used to signal a food trail, warn predators or readiness for sexual activity.

Snakes use the Jacobson’s organ to track prey. The prey releases specific pheromones which can then be tracked by the snake when it flicks its tongue. This process collects chemicals present in the air and brings it towards the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of its mouth. The snake can then follow the “scent”, leading it to its prey.

 Trap Jaw Ant’s Mandible

The Odontomachusor the trap-jaw ants are named so because of their powerful snapping mandibles. These mandibles can open almost 180 degrees wide and instantly snap shut when a sensory hair is triggered.

What makes the ants intriguing is the speed at which they snap their mandibles. At over 230 kilometres per hour, the trap-jaw ant’s mandibles close within 0.00013 seconds. The force of acceleration is 100,000g’s, which translates to 100,000 times the g force experienced on earth. Hence, trap-jaw ants have one of the fastest moving appendages in the animal kingdom, only next to the jellyfish’s nematocyst. Explore other exciting topics from the parts of a jellyfish to forebrain parts only on BYJU’S.

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