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Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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ScienceShot: Baleen Whales Use 'Ear Fat' to Hear
19 April 2012 3:45 pm
Whales use sound to communicate over entire oceans, search for food, and coordinate attacks. But just how baleen whales—a group that uses comblike projections from the roof of their mouth to catch food—heard these grunts and moans was something of a mystery. Toothed whales, including dolphins and porpoises, use lobes of fat connected to their jawbones and ears to pick up sounds. But in-depth analyses of baleen whales weren't previously possible because their sheer size made them impossible to fit into scanners such that use computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, which analyze soft tissues. So in a new study, published online this month in The Anatomical Record, researchers focused on one of the smaller species, minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). They found that triangular patches of fat surrounding minke whale ears (yellow patches, above) could be key to how they hear. They scanned seven minke whale heads in CT and MRI machines, created computer models of the ears and surrounding soft tissue, and dissected the whale noggins to reveal ear fat running from blubber just under the skin to the ear bones. This is similar to the arrangement found in toothed whales. The novel analysis allowed the authors to speculate that the ear fat in both toothed and baleen whales could have shared a common evolutionary origin.
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