Dolphin`s hearing compound found in insects

Last Updated: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 16:25

Auckland: A hearing system compound hitherto thought exclusive to dolphins has been discovered in a large group of insects, including crickets and grasshoppers, researchers say.

Scientists from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, with colleagues from Plant and Food Research, New Zealand, led the research with engineers from the University of Strathclyde.

They discovered that the iconic New Zealand insects, the weta, rely on a unique lipid - a compound that includes oils and fats - to hear the world around them, according to an Auckland statement.

James Windmill, of Strathclyde`s Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering, said: "As engineers we are particularly interested in how sound interacts with certain materials and how it travels to and from a source. These findings help us to improve our fundamental knowledge and could inspire new systems in ultrasound technologies like biomedical and non-destructive testing."

"The discovery is interesting as previously only toothed whales were known to use this hearing system lipid. There are many similarities in the use of lipids to amplify the sounds and help both animal groups to hear," said Windmill.

"We don`t know why animals who are so far apart in evolutionary terms have this similarity. But it opens up the possibility that others may use the same hearing system," added Windmill.


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First Published: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 16:25

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