Planet Earth

Butterfly Discovered With Ears on Its Wings

DiscoblogBy Brett IsraelOct 26, 2009 9:58 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

It's a question you wouldn't be surprised to hear a toddler ask: Do butterflies have ears? Well yes, yes they do. And one species was recently discovered to have ears on their wings. The blue morpho butterfly from Central and South America has beautiful bright blue wings complete with a simple ear structure that picks up noise and relays it to the brain. Via MSNBC.com

In the new study, Kathleen Lucas of the University of Bristol in England and her colleagues were interested in the odd-looking hearing membrane that sits at the base of the blue morpho's wing. The tympanal membrane, as it is called, is oval-shaped with a dome at its center that kind of resembles the yolk at the center of a fried egg, Lucas said.

Researchers determined that the butterflies can distinguish high and low frequencies, uncommon in simple ears, and they speculate this could help them determine if a hungry bird is about to swoop down and attack. Related Content: DISCOVER: Littlest Butterfly DISCOVER: The Wired Butterfly Discoblog: A Butterfly’s Moustache Leads Scientists to a New Species Image: flickr / DavidDennisPhotos.com

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.