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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
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Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Night Songs of the Jurassic
6 February 2012 3:00 pm
Jurassic katydids sang in a deeper register than their modern-day kin, a new study suggests. Katydids, crickets, and a number of other creatures make their musical chirps by scraping one rough body part against another—a process known as stridulation. Previously, scientists hadn't discovered fossils that preserved the music-making structures, so they couldn't determine whether the ancient insects chirped at a single frequency, as some living species do, or across a variety of frequencies. Now, an analysis of katydid wing fragments (second and fourth images from left) from 165-million-year-old rocks in northern China that include well-preserved versions of the music-making structures (depicted at left and third from left) reveals that the ancient katydids sang at a single frequency of about 6.4 kilohertz, or about 6400 cycles per second. That tone is about half the frequency created by today's katydids but within the range of tones generated by living species of crickets, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The single-frequency chirps, each of which lasted about 16 milliseconds (as heard in the video), would have helped the katydids distinguish the calls of their species amid the cacophony of a forest filled with other insects. Because all modern-day katydids that use single-tone chirps are active at night, the team suggests that the newly described Jurassic species also was nocturnal—a lifestyle that would have diminished predation by small dinosaurs that foraged in the daytime.
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