The song of a Jurassic cricket

Re-creation of Jurassic Cricket song, from Bristol University in the UK by qparker

Listen to this recording. It sounds a little like Sputnik, but it's actually a noise that's not been heard in 165 million years.

This is the song of an extinct species of bush cricket, the fossils of which have been found in China's Inner Mongolia region. Researchers recreated the sound by studying the fossil remains of the crickets' sound-producing organs. From the BBC:

A "plectrum" on one wing was dragged along a microscopic comb-like structure on the other. This produces a continuous "chirp" as the male insects rub, or "stridulate" their wings in a scissor-like motion. Dr Zapata described this stridulation as similar to playing a tiny violin.

Dr Zapata then set out to calculate the frequency of the tone, which denotes how high- or low-pitched it sounded. To to this, he simply compared the size and shape of its music-making or "stridulatory" instruments to those of living cricket species

There are modern bush crickets, but their songs are played at a higher pitch. The low tones produced by this extinct cricket imply that it might have been best adapted to do its singing on the ground, rather than elevated on branches or tall stalks of grass. Lower pitched sounds travel further from that elevation than a high-pitched one would.

Read the full paper at PNAS

Thanks for Submitterating, arkle!

8

  1. Chirp chirp-CHIIIIRP chirp chirp, Chirp chirp-CHIIIIRP chirp chirp, CHIRP chirp CHIRRRUUPP, chirp chirp chiiiiiiiirp!

  2. Dr Zapata then set out to calculate the frequency of the tone, which denotes how high- or low-pitched it sounded. To to this, he simply compared the size and shape of its music-making or “stridulatory” instruments to those of living cricket species

    That’s probably the best way of guessing, but surely the frequency only depends on how quickly they scrape their wings.  I guess if the muscle structure was exactly the same, and the nerve impulses exactly the same, this would work.  But wouldn’t this also be effected by ambient temperature?

  3. I was wondering about comparing wear patterns on modern cricket stridulators with the fossilized ones, to get a clue if the chirp patterns are similar.  Maybe the old ones had different ways of chirping than the modern crickets.

  4.  So this is what the dinosaurs heard on those lazy summer days when they sat in their nests drinking lemonade?

  5. Pure speculation (and therefore crap) – must be funding review time there, so they publish something stupid even the general public could find “interesting”.

Comments are closed.