With increasing age, sensory hair cells and nerve connections in the inner ear are eventually lost and people become hard of hearing. In contrast, birds are able to regenerate hair cells. Whether this is also the case with old animals, however, has hardly ever been tested. Zoologist Dr. Ulrike Langemann and her colleagues from the University of Oldenburg now show that barn owls do not become hard of hearing with increasing age. The researchers have published their results in the journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society B".
At the age of about 65, five out of ten people have already lost so much of their hearing sensitivity that speech intelligibility and listening to music may be severely impaired. Such age-related hearing loss is also known from other mammals. Birds, however, have retained the ability to grow new hair cells in the inner ear or to replace hair cells that were lost after damage.
In order to improve the treatment of hearing loss in humans in our ageing society, scientists want to understand the regeneration mechanisms of birds. To date, however, it is poorly known whether this type of regeneration is retained in animals with increasing age and whether birds possess "ageless ears" and can hear well into old age.
Some time ago, the team of Prof. Dr. Georg Klump and Dr. Ulrike Langemann from the Department of Neurosciences showed that a songbird, the European starling, does not suffer from age-related hearing loss. Now the scientists were able to confirm their findings in a study financed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).
Using behavioural training with food rewards, the scientists compared the hearing ability of barn owls of different age groups. They found no difference in the hearing sensitivity of very old and of young birds. "The ability to regenerate functional hair cells throughout life is probably a general, robust feature of birds", concludes Klump.
Due to their facial disk, barn owls have an extremely good sense of hearing. They also can locate sound sources more accurately than any other animal. Both abilities help barn owls to locate and catch their prey - mainly mice. The hair cells in the inner ear of barn owls are particularly specialized. The star of the Oldenburg study is the old barn owl "Weiss", which has remained with the scientists for 24 years. "In the meantime, she is very unhurried" says scientist Bianca Krumm, who handles the animal every day, "but her hearing is still excellent".
Publication: Krumm B, Klump G, Köppl C, Langemann U. (2017): Barn owls have ageless ears. Proc. R. Soc. B 20171584.
Dr. Corinna Dahm-Brey | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University
Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences