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A calcareous concretion on the end of a sensory hair cell in the vertebrate ear and in some invertebrates.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a solid formation on the surface of the mechanoreceptor cells in the organs of equilibrium of some invertebrates and all vertebrates. Otoliths of different animals vary in origin, size, and structure: they can be secreted by cells or introduced from outside, for example, grains of sand serve as otoliths in crayfish. Mammalian otoliths are usually crystals of calcite (CaCO3) up to 10 microns (μ.) long and 1–3 μ wide.

As otoliths shift in response to acceleration and changes in body position, they mechanically irritate the underlying ciliated receptor cells, which then send appropriate signals to the brain.

The action of otoliths has been demonstrated in experiments with crayfish. The grains of sand that serve as the crayfish’s otoliths were replaced during molting by iron filings, and a magnet was placed above the animal to attract the filings. The crayfish reversed its sense of orientation, turned over, and swam with its abdomen up.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In any case no aging structures have been validated for smallmouth buffalo; therefore, we cannot be certain if lapilli otoliths are more accurate than scales for this species.
Preparation of otoliths for thin-sectioning and age reading: Otoliths were prepared for thin sectioning (approximately 0.5 mm) by using IsoMet[R] Low Speed Saw (Buehler Lake Bluff, United States) according to the protocol detailed in Khan, Nazir, and Khan (2016).
The objectives to obtain this goal were to determine 1) the relationships between different measurements of length, 2) bias between using scales and using otoliths to estimate age, 3) the best-fit model by examining multiple growth models, and 4) growth parameters by using the best-fit model.
Elemental data were collected from the otoliths of 10 juvenile Cutthroat Trout collected from tributaries of the Marys River and from 6 adult fish from the Willamette River at Harris-burg.
sihama may be a pair of sister species based on our comparison between these two in morphology, swim bladder, otoliths and COI sequence.
To verify the analytical results from the Washington Coast samples, 31 pairs of sagittal otoliths of halibut from the northern Puget Sound (a distinctly different area or stock from the Washington Coast [14]) were analyzed.
Larval traits were determined from daily bands and settlement marks in lapillar otoliths of recently settled gobies.
Otoliths are paired structures composed of organic matter and calcium carbonate crystals, especially in the form of aragonite.