Wouldn’t humans look silly if our ears were located on our legs, just below our knees, like those of grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and katydids? Very little was understood about these oddly-placed ears until 2012, when entomologist Fernando Montealegre-Zapata from the University of Bristol used a CT scanner to find out how katydid ears are constructed. He discovered that these tiny ears include two unique organs -- an acoustic vesicle that acts like the human cochlea, and a tympanal plate that acts like the auditory ossicles of our middle ear in order to transmit vibrations as sound.
Speak directly to the knee:
- Crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, and locusts comprise the order Orthoptera. Orthopteran ears are some of the smallest in the animal world.
- A cricket’s ears lead into chambers inside its legs, which connect to either side of the insect, allowing sound to completely pass through it.
- Montealagre-Zapata thinks that Orthopteran hearing has evolved to the point where they can hear sounds other than their own serenades -- maybe even the high-frequency calls of insect-hunting bats.