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November 22 2012

Rainforest Insects Hear Like Humans


Deep in the South American rainforest, katydids perk up their tiny ears to listen for the clicking of bats. Apart from being on the insects' forelegs, those ears are remarkably similar to our own, new research shows. And by imitating the tiny structures, researchers speculate, engineers might create microscopic acoustic sensors.

Mammalian ears have three distinctive features: a tympanic membrane, or eardrum, that vibrates with incoming sound waves; three delicate ear bones that transmit the vibrations into the inner ear; and the cochlea, a fluid-filled coil of sensor cells that respond to vibrations at different frequencies, arranged from high to low like the keys on a piano.

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