The Evolutionary Biology of Hearing

pp 351-375

The Water-to-Land Transition: Evolution of the Tetrapod Basilar Papilla, Middle Ear, and Auditory Nuclei

  • Bernd Fritzsch

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The evolution of the auditory system of tetrapods has been the topic of numerous investigations on the middle ear (e.g., Reichert 1837; Gaupp 1898, 1913; de Burlet 1934; Thomson 1966; Henson 1974; Lombard and Bolt 1988), the inner ear (e.g., Retzius 1881, 1884; de Burlet 1934; Werner 1960; Baird 1974; Lewis, Leverenz, and Bialek 1985), and the auditory pathways in the central nervous system (e.g., Larsell 1934; Ariens-Kappers, Huber, and Crosby 1936; Northcutt 1980). The consensus reached by many of these studies was that the water-to-land transition apparently coincided with the coevolution of a tympanic middle ear, a basilar papilla, and a periotic labyrinth in the inner ear, as well as neural pathways devoted to the processing of airborn sound in tetrapods (Fig. 18.1).