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December 20 2012

How Scientists Are Recreating a Sound Last Heard in the Jurassic Period


Every fossil is a time capsule with its own story to tell—or sing. Now paleontologists have listened as never before, recreating an insect song that has not been heard in 165 million years.

Working in northeastern China in a fossil-rich region called the Jiulongshan Formation, Beijing-based paleontologists discovered an exquisite set of insect wings preserved in stone. Microscopic analysis showed they were from a previously unknown species of archaic katydid, a cricket-like creature. Most exciting, the wings had survived the grind of time, so the special structures the presumably male katydid used to sing could still be seen. The researchers named it Archaboilus musicus in tribute to its acoustic talents.

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