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If looks could kill…
  1. I R Schwab
  1. University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA, USA; irschwab@ucdavis.edu

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    A withering glance can change the dynamic of a conversation, but imagine just such a glance having the capability to frighten or stun another.Astroscopus (Latin “star seer”) can do just that. The northern stargazer lives off the east coast of North America and has evolved extraordinary and shocking uses for its extraocular muscles.

    Electric fish are found in at least five orders, including Torpediniformes (electrogenic rays and skates) Gymnotiformes (electric eel and others), Siluriformes (electric catfish), Osteoglossiformes (knifefishes) and Perciformes. Perciformes has but one, albeit interesting, creature to contribute to this strange ménage.

    Most electric fish generate their charge from electroplaxes, which are collections of modified, stacked, and flattened muscle cells with a nerve leading to one side of this complex. The muscle cells are polarised in the same direction and generate their charge through the serial stacking and summation of these cells. They function more like a capacitor than a battery. With nervous stimulus, an electric discharge of these muscles cells can be generated. Some, such as the electric eel (Electorphorus), can generate up to 500 V, …

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