Diversity of Lateral Line Systems: Evolutionary and Functional Considerations

  • Sheryl Coombs
  • John Janssen
  • Jacqueline F. Webb


The lateral line system is the only sensory system unique to aquatic vertebrates, being restricted to fish and some aquatic amphibians. It contains at least two, and probably three, different receptor classes: ciliated mechanoreceptors, electroreceptors, and a largely unknown group of receptors called the vesicles of Savi, found only in certain elasmobranch fishes (Garman 1888; Coggi 1891; Norris 1932). While all these organs are innervated by branches of the lateral line nerve and may have common embryological origins (Coggi 1891; Norris 1932; Northcutt 1985), it is quite clear that ciliated mechanoreceptors and electroreceptors respond to different stimuli and that their CNS projections are segregated at least at the level of the brain stem (McCormick 1983; Northcutt 1985). Thus, the concept of a single lateral line system has given way to one of at least two different sensory systems, with emerging evidence of anatomical functional variability within each of these.


Hair Cell Lateral Line Lateral Line System Lateral Line Canal Canal Axis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheryl Coombs
    • 1
  • John Janssen
    • 1
  • Jacqueline F. Webb
    • 2
  1. 1.Parmly Hearing Institute and Department of BiologyLoyola UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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