The ears of insects: Microscale sensors and auditory nanomechanics

Daniel Robert,
University Bristol

In insects, hearing has evolved at least 7 times independently, generating a wide diversity of structures that are adapted to the delicate functions of audition. Since insects are usually very small, their hearing organs are bound to be reduced in size, imposing severe constraints on acoustic detection. Insect ears may also be regarded as micro-scale acoustic sensors that have evolved towards some adequacy for appropriate sound detection. Our recent research shows that insect ears are capable of sophisticated feats of acoustic detection, involving innovative mechanisms for high directional accuracy, nanometric sensitivity, and active auditory mechanics.