74 research outputs found

    Comparative analysis of the shape and size of the middle ear cavity of turtles reveals no correlation with habitat ecology

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    The middle ear of turtles differs from other reptiles in being separated into two distinct compartments. Several ideas have been proposed as to why the middle ear is compartmentalized in turtles, most suggesting a relationship with underwater hearing. Extant turtle species span fully marine to strictly terrestrial habitats, and ecomorphological hypotheses of turtle hearing predict that this should correlate with variation in the structure of the middle ear due to differences in the fluid properties of water and air. We investigate the shape and size of the air‐filled middle ear cavity of 56 extant turtles using 3D data and phylogenetic comparative analysis to test for correlations between habitat preferences and the shape and size of the middle ear cavity. Only weak correlations are found between middle ear cavity size and ecology, with aquatic taxa having proportionally smaller cavity volumes. The middle ear cavity of turtles exhibits high shape diversity among species, but we found no relationship between this shape variation and ecology. Surprisingly, the estimated acoustic transformer ratio, a key functional parameter of impedance‐matching ears in vertebrates, also shows no relation to habitat preferences (aquatic/terrestrial) in turtles. We suggest that middle ear cavity shape may be controlled by factors unrelated to hearing, such as the spatial demands of surrounding cranial structures. A review of the fossil record suggests that the modern turtle ear evolved during the Early to Middle Jurassic in stem turtles broadly adapted to freshwater and terrestrial settings. This, combined with our finding that evolutionary transitions between habitats caused only weak evolutionary changes in middle ear structure, suggests that tympanic hearing in turtles evolved as a compromise between subaerial and underwater hearing

    Mechanics of the exceptional anuran ear

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    The anuran ear is frequently used for studying fundamental properties of vertebrate auditory systems. This is due to its unique anatomical features, most prominently the lack of a basilar membrane and the presence of two dedicated acoustic end organs, the basilar papilla and the amphibian papilla. Our current anatomical and functional knowledge implies that three distinct regions can be identified within these two organs. The basilar papilla functions as a single auditory filter. The low-frequency portion of the amphibian papilla is an electrically tuned, tonotopically organized auditory end organ. The high-frequency portion of the amphibian papilla is mechanically tuned and tonotopically organized, and it emits spontaneous otoacoustic emissions. This high-frequency portion of the amphibian papilla shows a remarkable, functional resemblance to the mammalian cochlea

    Internally coupled ears in living mammals.

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    It is generally held that the right and left middle ears of mammals are acoustically isolated from each other, such that mammals must rely on neural computation to derive sound localisation cues. There are, however, some unusual species in which the middle ear cavities intercommunicate, in which case each ear might be able to act as a pressure-difference receiver. This could improve sound localisation at lower frequencies. The platypus Ornithorhynchus is apparently unique among mammals in that its tympanic cavities are widely open to the pharynx, a morphology resembling that of some non-mammalian tetrapods. The right and left middle ear cavities of certain talpid and golden moles are connected through air passages within the basicranium; one experimental study on Talpa has shown that the middle ears are indeed acoustically coupled by these means. Having a basisphenoid component to the middle ear cavity walls could be an important prerequisite for the development of this form of interaural communication. Little is known about the hearing abilities of platypus, talpid and golden moles, but their audition may well be limited to relatively low frequencies. If so, these mammals could, in principle, benefit from the sound localisation cues available to them through internally coupled ears. Whether or not they actually do remains to be established experimentally.This is the final version of the article. It first appeared from Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00422-015-0675-

    Similarity of Traveling-Wave Delays in the Hearing Organs of Humans and Other Tetrapods

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    Transduction of sound in mammalian ears is mediated by basilar-membrane waves exhibiting delays that increase systematically with distance from the cochlear base. Most contemporary accounts of such “traveling-wave” delays in humans have ignored postmortem basilar-membrane measurements in favor of indirect in vivo estimates derived from brainstem-evoked responses, compound action potentials, and otoacoustic emissions. Here, we show that those indirect delay estimates are either flawed or inadequately calibrated. In particular, we argue against assertions based on indirect estimates that basilar-membrane delays are much longer in humans than in experimental animals. We also estimate in vivo basilar-membrane delays in humans by correcting postmortem measurements in humans according to the effects of death on basilar-membrane vibrations in other mammalian species. The estimated in vivo basilar-membrane delays in humans are similar to delays in the hearing organs of other tetrapods, including those in which basilar membranes do not sustain traveling waves or that lack basilar membranes altogether