This is not a duplicate. This is not asking about land electroreception on an Earth-like planet. This is asking what the planet would have to be like for electroreception on land to work. Denser humid atmosphere maybe?

  • $\begingroup$ The word electrosensory is an adjective. It needs to determine a noun or a nominal group. That is to say, an electrosensory what? (And the fount of all knowledge has examples of non-aquatic organisms which are capable of electroception, including bees, echidnas and caecilians.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 9, 2020 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ Bees can sense electric fields thanks to special structures, so either that or have all of your creatures give off ridiculous electric currents (humid air won't do, as both air and pure water are bad conductors) $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2020 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ As AlexP mentioned, the short beaked echidna's could be a good example that doesn't rely on a charge to be built up, the humidity of the ants nest allows the echidna to locate its prey. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Jun 10, 2020 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


The bee example that AlexP and ProjectApex mention in their comments is interesting. There is a PNAS commentary https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/113/26/7020.full.pdf that explains that they may not have a sensory apparatus like sharks or vertabrates, but instead use the accumulation of charge may cause the position of sensory hairs to change. That is not that different than an old fashioned electrometer.

The Feynman lectures https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/II_09.html has a discussion of electric fields and currents in the atmosphere.

I think you have to be a little careful about what kind of sensing you want to do and make a distinction between sensing current, or flow of ions, compared to sensing the electric field.

For the bees - dryer air is likely better, but they also have to get pretty close.

For sharks - it seems like it is substantially more complicated, and probably the concentration of the salts and ions on the two sides of some sort of membrane changes in response to the the electric field (one side being seawater, the other being the sensory organ of the shark). So it seems unlikely that translates very well to land.

But for world building purposes it seems like you could have some hair like structures that could change position in relation to the electric field.

PNAS paper on Bees


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