Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2009
The shapes and dimensions of the statocysts of cephalopods have been measured and compared with the semi-circular canals of vertebrates. The cavities grow much more slowly than the body as a whole, but there are knobs, anticristae, which restrict the cavity, and these grow relatively faster. This ensures that the flow of endolymph across the cupulae remains small. Where the liquid is constrained within canals the radius of curvature of the whole canal, R, is similar to that of fishes, whereas its internal radius, r, is twice as large in non-buoyant and four times as large in deep-sea buoyant cephalopods as in fishes of similar size. As in fishes the restriction is greatest in the horizontal plane, providing for operation at higher frequencies in turning about the yaw axis.
The statocysts of seven species of Loligo all have similar proportions. The largest individuals of 16 genera of non-buoyant squids also have these same relative dimensions. The statocyst of Sepia is more like that of non-buoyant than of other buoyant cephalopods but yet differs significantly from that of Loligo at all sizes. On the other hand 21 genera of squids known to be neutrally buoyant are very different. Their statocysts are often larger than in the non-buoyant forms and there is less restriction of the cavity by anticristae. The greater flow of endolymph acting across the cupulae presumably provides greater sensitivity at the lower frequencies of turning of these deep-sea animals.
The data suggest that the cristae of the cephalopod statocyst may operate in the frequency band where they act as angular accelerometers whereas the vertebrate semi-circular canals operate at higher frequencies as angular velocity meters.