Dictionary > Otolith

Otolith

Definition
noun, plural: otoliths
A crystalline particle of calcium carbonate and a protein adhering to the gelatinous membrane of the maculae of the utricle and saccule
Supplement
An otolith is a particle that is crystalline in structure due to its calcium carbonate composition. It is found in the inner ear of vertebrates. In particular, it adheres to the gelatinous membrane of the maculae of the utricle and the saccule. Saccule and utricle of the inner ear make the otolith organs in vertebrates. Thus, otoliths are associated with the sense of balance. Movement of otoliths (for instance, due to a change in the position), stimulates the sensory hair cells to send impulses to the brain. The otoliths are also a directional indicator. In higher aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates, the otoliths are involved in sound detection. The otoliths are also sensitive to gravity and linear acceleration.
The otoliths may also be used as an indication of the age of a fish. Counting the annual growth rings on the otoliths may provide an estimate of the age of a particular fish.
Word origin: Ancient Greek ōto, from oûs (“ear”) + líthos (“stone”)
Synonym(s):

  • otoconium
  • otosteon
  • statoconium
  • statolith (zoology)

See also:

  • Equilibrioception
  • saccule
  • utricle


    You will also like...

    Sensory systems
    Sensory Systems

    A sensory system is a part of the nervous system consisting of sensory receptors that receive stimuli from the internal ..

    New Zealand Fauna
    New Zealand’s Unique Fauna

    Meet some of New Zealand's unique fauna, including endemic insects, frogs, reptiles, birds, and mammals, and investigate..

    Nephrolepis exaltata
    Vascular Plants: Ferns and Relatives

    Ferns and their relatives are vascular plants, meaning they have xylem and phloem tissues. Because of the presence of va..

    Chromosomes X and Y and Sex Determination
    Chromosomes X and Y and Sex Determination

    This tutorial looks at sex determination via the sex chromosomes, X and Y. Read it to get more info on X and Y chromosom..

    Freshwater lake ecosystem
    Freshwater Producers and Consumers

    Freshwater ecosystem is comprised of four major constituents, namely elements and compounds, plants, consumers, and deco..

    Neurology of Illusions
    Neurology of Illusions

    Illusions are the perceptions and sensory data obtained from situations in which human error prevents us from seeing the..