“Our study suggests that high-frequency hearing may have preceded the emergence of echolocation,” says Morgan Churchill of New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, New York.
Churchill and his colleagues made their discovery in studies of a new fossil whale species (Echovenator sandersi) found in a drainage ditch in South Carolina. The researchers CT scanned the ancient whale’s remarkably complete fossilized ear and compared it to those of two hippos and 23 fossil and living whales. Those analyses uncovered many features found today in dolphins, which can hear at ultrasonic frequencies.More. Paper. (paywall) – Churchill et al. The Origin of High-Frequency Hearing in Whales. Current Biology, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.004
File under: It all just suddenly happened for no particular reason.
See also: Orca evolution driven by culture?
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