The Loh Down On Science

Skin Teeth

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water….

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

And a new scientific paper by neurobiologist Daphne Soares. It's called--and we’re not getting this backwards--"By the teeth of their skin."

It’s about a rare two-and-a-half-inch catfish.  So far, it's found in only one place on Earth: A stream inside a cave in Ecuador.

But that's not the only unusual thing about it: It has teeth all over its body!  And like mouth teeth, they're made of enamel. Weird.

In the lab, when Soares and team scraped the body teeth off, the fish couldn't swim straight. They also didn't face into the water flow, as they do in the wild.

Other fish have specialized cells that sense motion and vibration, helping them orient to their environment. Turns out these catfish teeth work the same way.

Instead of a horror movie called Jaws, it could be a movie called TeethVery Small All-Over-the-Body Teeth That Act As a Tiny Steering Wheel.  We admit the concept needs work.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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