News / Science & Technology

Scientists Recreate Ancient Mating Call from Dinosaur Age

Made from fossil of prehistoric cricket found in China

A vein of the fossilized katydid wing shows a row of teeth for song-making. About 72mm across, the wing is larger than a modern katydid's.
A vein of the fossilized katydid wing shows a row of teeth for song-making. About 72mm across, the wing is larger than a modern katydid's.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

An ancient mating call from the age of the dinosaurs is back. Scientists at the University of Bristol in England have recreated the 165-million-year old love song from the fossil of a prehistoric cricket.

It was probably a noisy world, with thousands of other animal sounds, rushing streams and the rustle of giant ferns and coniferous trees.

Fernando Montealegre studies how insects sing and hear.

When he and his colleagues at the University of Bristol got their first look at a fossilized pair of katydid wings found in China, it was obvious that bug was a music maker.



Montealegre says Achaboilus musicus, as the new species was named, already displayed features that modern-day katydids use to make sound.

“One wing in extant species has a file vein, modified with a series of pegs and the other wing has a scraper. So they open and close the wing and during the closing cycle they produce the sound. The scraper hits the file teeth and generates vibrations.” 

Artist's conception of what the ancient A. musicus would have looked like.
Artist's conception of what the ancient A. musicus would have looked like.

Montealegre and colleagues compared the pegs on the vein on the 7-centimeter-long katydid wings’ with those of 59 living bush cricket or katydid species.  Unlike insects today that have varied rhythm and call patterns, Montealegre determined that A. musicus had a simple, single-frequency pulsing tone.

“It’s a primitive condition, just continuous singing. And in this case, the continuity would be a chirp every one second.”     

The male’s low six-kilohertz tone was especially adapted to carry over long distances at night.

The mating call rose from the forest floor and captivated females, despite other Jurassic distractions. Montealegre says that sound marked a new era in acoustic evolution.

“Many animals developed these acoustic capabilities. And it was a noisy environment and so they needed to produce private channels that they would attain with pure tones and tuning the sender and the receiver at the same respective frequencies for each animal.”

But any predator that could have picked up the sound would have been a problem. Mammals may have fed on them. It wasn’t until 100 million years later that bats appeared. By that time katydids had developed ultrasonic mating calls that their enemies could not hear.

The work is reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid