Wouldn't it be nice if you could tune out all the noise at the party and just listen to the boy or girl of your dreams? In China, scientists have found a frog which may be the only species able to shut out whatever background noise it chooses.
The lucky frog is the male concave-eared torrent frog. It is able to exclude background noise by opening and closing the Eustachian tubes in its inner ear. This adjusts the frequencies it hears by, for instance, blocking out low frequency noises while it listens for the call of the female, which sounds a little like a bird singing.
According to the scientists, the frog developed its special talent because of the noisy surroundings where it lives. The concave-eared torrent frog is mainly found around noisy mountain waterfalls at Huangshan Hot Springs in Central China. The special hearing was needed for the male frogs to be able to listen for the females.
The special ability of the males to exclude specific types of background noise makes them attractive not only to females, but also to hearing aid designers who would like to add a similar feature to the intelligent hearing aid technology of the future. Some current advanced hearing aids are able to lower background noise, and the scientists hope the investigation into the hearing of the male frogs in China will yield ideas for further technology advancements, so that some day hearing impaired people, too, will be able to hear the sweet things their ones and only are saying ? even at a noisy party.
Published on hear-it on February 12, 2009.
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