Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where Does a Butterfly Keep Its Ears

Hey guys,

I will bet you would never have thought about this in a million years although, once I tell you the answer, perhaps it is rather obvious. A butterfly keeps its wings only in the biggest part of its body; the wings!
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Dr. Kathleen Lucas from the University of Bristol, England discovered a strange looking membrane on the wings of the Blue Morpho butterflies with which they were studying. This membrane, which consists of a small oval-shaped patch on the butterflies' wings topped with a small dome picks up sound waves from the butterflies' natural surroundings and then converts them into nerve impulses thus serving as a sort of sensory organ for the insect. The butterfly's "ear" as we may call it can sense only minute sounds, it's hearing range being anywhere between 1000Hz to 5000Hz which is considerably less compared to a human's hearing range which goes somewhere between 20Hz to 20,000Hz! However, one advantage a butterfly's ear has over the ears of other animals is its extreme and accute sensitivity to changes of pitch
The tympanal membrane or butterfly's ear
Scientist believe that the butterfly would need such expert ears as it is perhaps essential to the survival of the insect, specifically in figuring out how and whne birds are going to attack. Lower pitch sounds would indicate the flapping of bird wings which would signal the butterfly to turn tail and run, however higher pitch sounds, like that of bird song would indicate to the butterfly that the bird has probably not spotted it yet thus eliciting the butterfly to remain at rest or stay extremely still, a posture which keeps most butterflies expertly hidden.

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