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Evolution of the tetrapod tympanic ear

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Recent research has shown that a tympanic middle ear evolved independently in the major vertebrate groups and thus represent independent experiments in terrestrial hearing. Furthermore, the tympanic ear emerged quite late in each group –most likely in the Triassic, approximately 120 my after the origin of the tetrapods and approximately 70 my after the first truly terrestrial tetrapods emerged. Based on biophysical and neurophysiological experiments on recent lungfish, amphibians, snakes, lizards and alligators I will try to outline scenarios for the initial adaptations of the middle ear to non-tympanic hearing and assess the selection pressures later adapting the middle ear for tympanic hearing, especially in relation to sensitivity and directionality.

This talk is part of the Foster Talks series.

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