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The Shocking History of Electric Fishes – From Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Shocking History of Electric Fishes: From Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology

Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino


This book looks at how three kinds of strongly electric fishes literally became “electrical,” and how they helped to change the sciences and medicine. These fishes are the flat torpedo rays common to the Mediterranean, the electric catfishes of Africa, and an “eel” from South America. The discovery of the electrical nature of these fishes in the second half of the 18th century was the starting point of the two fundamental advances in the sciences: on the physiological side, the demonstration that nerve conduction and muscle excitation are electrical phenomena; and on the physical side, the inv ... More

Keywords: electric fish, flat torpedo rays, eel, electric battery, electrical phenomena, fish electricity, volta

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Stanley Finger, author
Department of Psychology, Washington University
Author Webpage

Marco Piccolino, author
University of Ferrara

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PART I Introduction

Part II Ancient Cultures

Part III Late Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period

Part IV The Emergence of Fish Electricity

Part V The Royal Society and the Coveted Spark

Part VI From Fish to Nerve Physiology and Back