Hensen's work was involved with many fields of science including physiology, oceanography, and chemistry. His physiological work included describing the structures of the inner ear. These studies led to the discovery of the Hensen duct, Hensen cells and Hensen stripe. These structures and cells are part of the cochlea, the snail shell shaped structure in the inner ear that is responsible for sensing sound waves. Hensen was also able to extract glycogen from the liver and there was a priority dispute about this between him and Claude Bernard. Now it is known that Hensen verified Bernard's work.
Hensen is most remembered for his coining of the word plankton to describe the microscopic sea organisms that form the basis of the ocean's food chain. These organisms include drifting animals, plants, archea, algae, and bacteria. The term plankton describes an ecological niche rather than a specific type of organism. Because they depend on sunlight they are found in greater numbers on the surface of bodies of water. They are found in oceans and lakes and are an important food source for fish and whales. Hensen developed methods of collecting and studying plankton that are still used today.
Hensen died on April 5, 1924.
Press and Communication Services, University of Kiel; "Famous Scholars from Kiel: Victor Hensen"; Retrieved from www.uni-kiel.de
Raica, M.; "A Short Story of Victor Hensen and a Cell of the Inner Ear"; Romanian Journal of Morphology and Embryology (2012)53:855-857
Victor Hensen Wikipedia Entry