Thursday, 26 May 2016

Mucus may play vital role in dolphin echolocation

A new model suggests the mucus coating in dolphins' nasal passages is necessary to produce key characteristics of their sonar clicks

Date: May 24, 2016
Source: Acoustical Society of America

A dolphin chasing a tasty fish will produce a stream of rapid-fire echolocation clicks that help it track the speed, direction and distance to its prey. Now researchers have developed a model that could yield new insights into how the charismatic marine mammals make these clicks -- and it turns out mucus may play an important role.

The researchers will present their model at the 171st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, held May 23-27 in Salt Lake City.

"It's harder than you might think to make loud, high frequency sounds," said Aaron Thode, a research scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. "Wet, sticky surfaces could serve a purpose in this."

Most scientists believe dolphins create sound by forcing air through nasal passages located just beneath their blowholes. Within the nasal passage are lumps of tissue, called dorsal bursae, that collide and vibrate, producing the dolphin's repertoire of clicks, chirps and whistles. Yet the finer details of what happens in the nasal passages remain murky.

It's difficult to film a dolphin's working nasal passages, Thode said, and many of the motions happen as quickly as a thousand times per second, making it hard to measure them. In place of direct observation, Thode turned to a lumped element model -- commonly used by engineers and scientists to simplify complicated systems.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails