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      Exceptional high-frequency hearing and matched vocalizations in Australian pygopod geckos.

      The Journal of Experimental Biology

      Animals, Australia, Hearing, Lizards, physiology, Vocalization, Animal

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          We describe exceptional high-frequency hearing and vocalizations in a genus of pygopod lizards (Delma) that is endemic to Australia. Pygopods are a legless subfamily of geckos and share their highly specialized hearing organ. Hearing and vocalizations of amniote vertebrates were previously thought to differ clearly in their frequency ranges according to their systematic grouping. The upper frequency limit would thus be lowest in chelonians and increasingly higher in crocodilians, lizards, birds and mammals. We report data from four Delma species (D. desmosa, D. fraseri, D. haroldi, D. pax) from the Pilbara region of Western Australia that were studied using recordings of auditory-nerve compound action potentials (CAP) under remote field conditions. Hearing limits and vocalization energy of Delma species extended to frequencies far above those reported for any other lizard group, 14 kHz and >20 kHz, respectively. Their remarkable high-frequency hearing derives from the basilar papilla, and forward masking of CAP responses suggests a unique division of labor between groups of sensory cells within the hearing organ. These data also indicate that rather than having only strictly group-specific frequency ranges, amniote vertebrate hearing is strongly influenced by species-specific physical and ecological constraints.

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          Animals, Australia, Hearing, Lizards, physiology, Vocalization, Animal


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