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

  • Gerald Fleischer
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (volume 28)


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.


Ossicular Chain Schematic Cross Section Hearing Organ Balaenoptera Physalus Tympanic Bone 


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  1. Fleischer, G., 1976, Uber die Beziehungen zwischen Hoervermoegen und Schaedelbau bei Walen. Saeugetierkundl. Mitteilungen (Munich), 24, 48–59.Google Scholar
  2. Fleischer, G., 1978, Evolutionary Principles of the Mammian Middle Ear. Advances in Anatomy, Embrol., and Cell Biology, (Springer-Verlag; Berlin, Heidelberg, New York) 55:5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Fleischer

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