CT study of acoustic signal pathway through the middle ear of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
Keywords:Computerized tomography, Conservation, Mammals, Acoustic environment, Acoustic signals, Bony structures, Dry specimens, Endangered species, High resolution computer tomographies, Inner ear structures, Marine mammals, Middle ears, Sperm Whales
AbstractThe ability of marine mammals to adapt to an underwater acoustic environment is a remarkable evolutionary achievement. Of particular interest is how the middle and inner ear structures are modified relative to those of terrestrial mammals. For the large whale species there are very few anatomical descriptions of the ear, in part because of the large and dense bony structures involved. Because the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is listed as an endangered species, legal fresh specimens are rare. However old dry specimens can be found and we are able to present here a study of the periotic-tympanic bone complex of the sperm whale, using high resolution computer tomography (CT) imaging. We discuss the marine adaptations of the middle and inner ear structures.
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