Underwater sound detection by cephalopod statocyst


The cephalopod receptor of particle motion was identified. In a previous study, it was suggested that statocysts served this function, but there was no direct supporting evidence, and epidermal hair cells had not been conclusively ruled out. Experiments on Octopus ocellatus were conducted using respiratory activity as an indicator of sound perception. Intact animals clearly responded to 141-Hz particle motion at particle accelerations below 1.3×10−3 m/s2, and the mean perception threshold at this frequency was approximately 6.0×10−4 m/s2. Specimens in which the statoliths had been surgically removed did not show any response for accelerations up to 3.9×10−3 m/s2 at 141 Hz, which was approximately 16 dB greater than the mean perception threshold at this frequency. Specimens that had undergone a control operation in which the statoliths remained intact showed positive responses at 2.8×10−3 m/s2 for the same frequency stimulus. This indicates that the statocyst, which is morphologically similar to the inner ear system in fish, is responsible for the observed responses to particle motion in O. ocellatus. This is the first direct evidence that cephalopods detect kinetic sound components using statocysts.

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Correspondence to Susumu Segawa.

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Kaifu, K., Akamatsu, T. & Segawa, S. Underwater sound detection by cephalopod statocyst. Fish Sci 74, 781–786 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1444-2906.2008.01589.x

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Key Words

  • cephalopod
  • hearing
  • octopus
  • particle motion
  • statocyst