Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What Did Dinosaurs Hear?

Date:
June 5, 2007
Source:
University of Maryland, College Park
Summary:
What did dinosaurs hear? Probably a lot of low frequency sounds, like the heavy footsteps of another dinosaur, if University of Maryland professor Robert Dooling and his colleagues are right. What they likely couldn't hear were the high pitched sounds that birds make.

This diagram illustrates the relationship among archosaurs, which includes dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds. The drawings are of the inner ear structure of the different species. The numbers to the left are the time scale in million years. Today's birds are the closest living relatives of the extinct dinosaurs.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Maryland, College Park

What did dinosaurs hear? Probably a lot of low frequency sounds, like the heavy footsteps of another dinosaur, if University of Maryland professor Robert Dooling and his colleagues are right. What they likely couldn’t hear were the high pitched sounds that birds make.

Related Articles


Yet, it was what Dooling knows about bird hearing that led him and research collaborators Otto Gleich and Geoffrey A. Manley to determine what might have been in the extinct animal’s world of sound 65 million years ago. It seems that dinosaurs and their archosaur descendants, including birds and crocodiles, have very similar ear structure. By comparing those structures and applying other rules of hearing, the scientists have devised an idea of the dinosaur’s hearing range.

“The best guess is that dinosaurs were probably somewhat similar to some of the very large mammals of today, such as the elephants, but with poorer high frequency hearing than most mammals of today,” says Dooling. “As a general rule, animals can hear the sounds they produce. Dinosaurs probably also could hear very well the footsteps of other dinosaurs. Elephants, for instance, are purported to be able to hear, over great distances, the very low frequency infrasound generated by the footsteps of other elephants.”

Dooling will present the team’s findings at the Acoustical Society of America annual meeting, Tuesday, June 5, in Salt Lake City.

Big and Low

Dooling and his colleagues study the evolution of hearing of living organisms, including pressures their extinct ancestors might have faced. Dooling specializes in bird hearing. Today’s birds are the closest living relatives of the dinosaur.

The researchers focused on the part of the inner ear called the basilar membrane to conjecture about dinosaur hearing. Small, lightweight species with a short basilar membrane – a bird, for instance – can hear higher frequencies than larger species with a longer basilar membrane – a dinosaur.

“As a general rule, large organisms hear best and produce sounds at lower frequencies, while smaller organisms hear best and produce sounds at higher frequencies,” Dooling says. “General physical principles suggest that small, lightweight structures for producing sound can be moved at higher frequencies using less energy than can large, heavy structures.”

The dinosaur’s hearing range probably extended to about the upper frequency limit of a conventional telephone, about 3 kHz. By comparison, says the team’s paper, the hearing of “dogs and many other mammals extends to frequencies in the ultrasonic range above 20 kHz, much higher than in humans and archosaurs. The high frequency limit in birds is below that of normal hearing humans, and large dinosaurs have an even more restricted range of high frequency hearing, well below that of humans.”

“Interestingly, we sometimes irreverently refer to aging humans as ‘dinosaurs,’” says Dooling. “In fact, as humans age in our noisy environment, we begin to lose our hearing at high frequencies. So, in a sense, our hearing becomes more like that of the dinosaurs.”

Otto Gleich is a researcher at the University of Regensburg, and Geoffrey Manley is at Technical University of Munich.

The paper is on line at http://www.acoustics.org/press/153rd/dooling.html .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland, College Park. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland, College Park. "What Did Dinosaurs Hear?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070604215016.htm>.
University of Maryland, College Park. (2007, June 5). What Did Dinosaurs Hear?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070604215016.htm
University of Maryland, College Park. "What Did Dinosaurs Hear?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070604215016.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins