By the teeth of their skin, cavefish find their way

Gal Haspel, Adina Schwartz, Amy Streets, Daniel Escobar Camacho, Daphne Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Teeth and skin teeth (denticles), collectively named odontodes, are usually associated with the physical roles of cutting, protection or drag reduction in fishes [1,2]. These structures are composed of a soft pulp surrounded by dentine and covered by a mineralized substance such as enamel [3]. Odontodes arise from neural crest cells and epithelium and are often innervated [1-3]. However, little is known about their possible sensory function. Here, we demonstrate for the first time a mechanosensory role for denticles in a cavefish endemic to a fast water flow cave. All fishes gather hydrodynamic information via specialized sense organs called neuromasts [4-6]. Some fishes are especially attentive to such type of information [5] and until now hypertrophy of the neuromast system has been reported as the main constructive sensory adaptation in cavefishes [6,7]. We expect that the mechanosensory nature of denticles highlighted in this cave fish species might reflect a widespread sensory role for these structures in other animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R629-R630
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'By the teeth of their skin, cavefish find their way'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this