First bird may have 'heard like an emu'

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London, Jan 15 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have found that the earliest known bird, the magpie-sized Archaeopteryx lithographica, was able to hear like a modern emu.

According to a report by BBC News, the research was part of an analysis in which scientists tested whether the length of the cochlear duct (part of the cochlea - the organ of hearing in animals, which lies in the inner ear) could be used to infer hearing ability in a group of modern birds and reptiles.

"In modern living reptiles and birds, we found that the length of the bony canal containing the sensory tissue of the inner ear is strongly related to their hearing ability," said Dr Paul Barrett, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum.As part of the research, the scientists used 3D scans of birds to discover more about the archaeopteryx's hearing.

"We were then able to use these results to predict how extinct birds and reptiles may have heard, and found that Archaeopteryx had an average hearing range of approximately 2,000 Hz," said Dr Barrett.

"This means it had similar hearing to modern emus, which have some of the most limited hearing ranges of modern birds," he added.

Previously, researchers have only been able to estimate how prehistoric animals heard sounds by examining the skulls of damaged fossils and relating the size of brain regions involved in hearing to hearing ability.

They did this using comparisons with a fossil's living counterpart.

However, the technique of modern CT imaging, allowed Dr Barrett and his colleagues to accurately reconstruct the inner ear anatomy of various intact bird and reptile specimens. (ANI)

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