Ancient Human Ancestor Had Sixth Sense

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ITHACA, N.Y., Oct. 11 (UPI) — We have five senses but are descended from ancestors with a sixth sense to detect electrical fields in water to find prey and communicate, U.S. scientists say.

A study in the journal Nature Communications says about 30,000 species of land animals — including humans– descended from a common marine ancestor that had a well-developed electroreceptive system.

This ancestor was probably a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, jaws and teeth, and a lateral line system for detecting water movements, visible as a stripe along the flank of most current fish such as sharks that have such a sixth sense, a Cornell University release said Tuesday.

Living about 500 million years ago, it was the common ancestor of the vast majority of about 65,000 living vertebrate land and marine creatures, they said.

Some land vertebrates, including salamanders such as the Mexican axolotl, have electroreception, Cornell evolutionary biologist Willy Bemis said, but adaptation to terrestrial life meant reptiles, birds and mammals lost electrosense.

 

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