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Flow through the nasal cavity of the spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias


The nasal cavity of spiny dogfish is a blind capsule with no internal connection to the oral cavity. Water is envisioned to flow through the cavity in a smooth, continuous flow pattern; however, this assumption is based on previous descriptions of the morphology of the olfactory cavity. No experimentation on the flow through the internal nasal cavity has been reported. Morphology of the head of the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) does not suggest a close external connection between the oral and nasal systems. However, dye visualization showed that there was flow through the nasal apparatus and from the excurrent nostril to the mouth when respiratory flows were simulated. The hydrodynamic flow through the nasal cavity was observed from flow tank experiments. The dorsum of the nasal cavity of shark heads from dead animals was exposed by dissection and a glass plate was glued over of the exposed cavity. When the head was placed in a flow, dye was observed to be drawn passively into the cavity showing a complex, three-dimensional hydrodynamic flow. Dye entered the incurrent nostril, flowed through the nasal lamellae, crossed over and under the nasal valve, and circulated around the nasal valve before exiting the excurrent nostril. When the nasal valve was removed, the dye became stagnant and back flowed out through the incurrent nostril. The single nasal valve has a hydrodynamic function that organizes a coherent flow of water through the cavity without disruption. The results suggest that the morphology of the nasal apparatus in concert with respiratory flow and ambient flows from active swimming can be used to draw water through the olfactory cavity of the shark.

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Correspondence to F.E. Fish.

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Timm-Davis, L., Fish, F. Flow through the nasal cavity of the spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias . Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 224, 3407–3417 (2015).

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  • Nasal Cavity
  • European Physical Journal Special Topic
  • Olfactory Organ
  • Nasal Valve
  • Spiny Dogfish