The secret to sharks being the top predators that they are is all in the pores. These black specs are big enough to be seen by the naked eye, and are known as the Ampullae of Lorenzini. The specialized pores sense even the tiniest of electrical fields that are produced by all living organisms. Hundreds upon thousands of pores on the sharks head make up a network. Pores open onto canals lined with small hairs, similar to those found in the human ear. Canals then lead into the ampulla, which is a small gel-filled chamber. These sensory ‘pores’ only work in close range, limited to only a few inches away before the sense is limited. The organs detect electrical impulses that are caused when an animal’s muscles contract. If close enough, they can even detect a beating heart! Besides working to keep it’s prey in crosshairs during the final attack, the Ampullae of Lorenzini has other uses. Water currents can be followed with this organ, along with working as an internal compass, allowing the shark to navigate according to the Earth’s magnetic field.
Photo credit: MissGeekyKiKi