The team believes that the remarkable structure may be associated with the detection of predators, in particular birds. The Blue Morpho butterflies (Morpho peleides), native to Central and South America, are more famous for their amazing wing colouration and now turn out to have ears on their wings.
The simple ear sits at the base of the wing and looks like a sheet of stretched rubber. This oval-shaped tympanal membrane, with an unusual dome in the middle, is attached directly to sensory organs and is responsible for converting sound waves into signals that can be picked up by nerve cells.
Using a tiny laser beam, lead researcher Katie Lucas scanned the surface of the membrane while it was in action, and found that lower pitch sounds cause vibrations only in a part of the outer membrane while higher pitch sounds caused the entire membrane to vibrate.
The unusual structure and properties of the membrane mean that this butterfly ear may be able to distinguish between low and high pitch sounds, and measurements of nerve recordings suggested the butterfly is more sensitive to lower pitches. Butterfly hearing is unusually sensitive to low pitch sounds compared to other insects with similar ears.
The structure of the membrane could mean the butterfly can hear a greater range of pitches, which as Katie Lucas and her colleagues postulate, may enhance the abilities of these butterflies to listen for birds. The team suggest that sensitivity to lower pitch sounds may detect the beating of birds’ wings, while higher pitches may tune into birdsong.
The research was carried out by scientists working at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, University of Strathclyde and Carleton University, Ontario, Canada.
It was funded by a Journal of Experimental Biology Travelling Fellowship to Katie Lucas, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK.
Auditory mechanics and sensitivity in the tropical butterfly Morpho peleides (Pampilionoidea, Nymphalidae) by Kathleen M. Lucas, James F. C. Windmill, Daniel Robert and Jayne E. Yack The Journal of Experimental Biology
Hannah Johnson | EurekAlert!
20.11.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis
Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
20.11.2017 | Life Sciences
20.11.2017 | Trade Fair News
20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences