The Loh Down On Science

Get ready for a toadily cool discovery about amphibian hearing!

Who says you need ears to hear?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet the tiny Gardiner's frog from the Seychelles Islands. It’s the size of a thumbtack!  Gardiner’s have long intrigued scientists, because, apparently, they’re deaf. 

See, most frogs have eardrums on the outside of their head.  Sound vibrates the eardrum, signaling the inner ear, which relays it to the brain.  But Gardiner's don't have eardrums.

Yet when French researchers recently played them pre-recorded ribbets, the little froggies ribbeted back!  So apparently they can hear.  But how?

To find out, the team scanned the critters with advanced X-ray equipment. They were looking for something that resonated in lieu of eardrums.

And they found it!  The scans showed Gardiner’s do have an inner ear.  It’s next to its mouth, separated by thin tissue.  The mouth acts like a resonance chamber, amplifying sound.  Like an eardrum, the dividing tissue picks it up and activates the inner ear!

The discovery could help understand how amphibian hearing evolved.

So no shouting at Gardiner’s frogs. They’re not deaf after all.  I TOAD you so!  Sorry.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


blog comments powered by Disqus