Lampreys Heat Up Before Mating

Fatty tissues on backs of male fish get warmer in the presence of potential partners.

By | June 28, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, ALEXANDER FRANCIS LYDONAs part of courtship, male sea lampreys rub a ridge of back tissue against females’ abdomens. According to new research to be published on July 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, this ridge of tissue heats up when male fish are near members of their own species, especially mature females. The authors hypothesize that producing heat could be part of the fish’s mating ritual.

The researchers began to wonder if the fatty ridge, called “rope tissue,” could produce heat after looking at it under a microscope and realized the tissue was made up of fat cells very similar to the brown fat cells found in mammals. Mammals use brown fat cells to produce heat in cold weather. The researchers tracked the temperatures of the fish tissue and found that it got hotter in the presence of other sea lampreys, particularly when mature females were around.

The scientists had previously noticed the role of the fish’s ridges in courtship but did not recognize that the tissues had thermal properties. “We thought it’s just a structure that was used for some kind of mechanical stimulation that they needed to trigger the female to lay eggs,” Yu-Wen Chung-Davidson of Michigan State University and an author of the study said in an article accompanying the paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology

(Hat tip to BBC Nature)

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. Thousands of Mutations Accumulate in the Human Brain Over a Lifetime
  2. 2017 Top 10 Innovations
    Features 2017 Top 10 Innovations

    From single-cell analysis to whole-genome sequencing, this year’s best new products shine on many levels.

  3. Search for Life on the Red Planet
  4. Two Dozen House Republicans Do an About-Face on Tuition Tax