Animal Sonar Systems

Volume 28 of the series NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series pp 891-893

Low-Frequency Receiver of the Middle Ear in Mysticetes and Odontocetes

  • Gerald Fleischer

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Mysticetes are known to emit sounds of low and even very low frequencies, down to the famous 20-Hz-signals. Because the mammalian ear is generally rather insensitive to low frequencies, the problem arises how these animals manage to hear them. Several mechanisms have been proposed, including the detection of resonances of the lungs. It is the purpose of this presentation, however, to show that the cetacean ear is structurally specialized for the detection of low frequencies.