Amolops tormotus, also referred to as the concave-eared torrent frog, is the first non-mammalian species found to be capable of producing and detecting ultrasounds for communication, much like dolphins, bats, and some rodents. It does so, the researchers report, to make itself heard above the din of low-frequency sounds produced in its surroundings so that it can communicate territorial information to other males of its species. In addition to helping researchers puzzle out how the ear evolved, the research may one day enable scientists to develop new strategies or technologies that help people to hear in environments in which there is a lot of background noise.
"In the study of communication and communication disorders, researchers can gain a great deal of insight by looking at the natural world," says James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIDCD. "The more we can learn about the extraordinary mechanisms that Amolops and other animals have developed to hear and communicate with one another, the more fully we can understand the hearing process in humans, and the more inspired we can be in developing new treatments for hearing loss."
Ultrasounds are high-pitched sounds more than 20 kilohertz (kHz) in frequency, exceeding the upper limit of sounds detectable by
Contact: Jennifer Wenger
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders