Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 179, Issue 5, pp 613–624 | Cite as

Behaviorally significant immobile state of so-called thanatosis in the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus DeGeer: its characterization, sensory mechanism and function

  • H. Nishino
  • M. Sakai
Original Paper


We have found that the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus shows an immobile posture, so-called thanatosis. Thanatosis was reflexly elicited by gently holding the forelegs and pronotum of the cricket. During thanatosis, the respiration rate decreased markedly while the heart rate doubled compared with the resting state. Animals in the state of extreme rigidity were unresponsive to the external disturbances but easily aroused by mechanical stimulation such as prodding. The immobile posture usually persisted for 2–4 min, but occasionally for more than 20 min, and then suddenly ended. Catalepsy was induced during thanatosis when a leg was passively forced to the extended position. For elicitation of the flexion reflex, either campaniform sensilla and femoral chordotonal organs (FCOs) in the forelegs, and spine-like sensilla on the pronotum were necessary. Among these receptors, however, only the FCOs were involved in inducing the immobile state. Centrally, the brain was indispensable for thanatosis to be maintained. In semi-natural conditions the thanatotic state did occur spontaneously while the cricket struggled to get into a small crevice according to the nature of this species. This sudden immobilization could help the cricket get out of danger of predators like reptiles and amphibians in the natural habitat.

Key words

Cricket Immobile state Thanatosis Femoral chordotonal organ Escape behavior 



femoral chordotonal organ






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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Nishino
    • 1
  • M. Sakai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceOkayama UniversityOkayamaJapan

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