Scientists Drugged Alligators With Ketamine And Put Headphones On Their Heads To Learn How Dinosaurs Heard

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In what seems to be an unusual experiment, a team of researchers fed ketamine to alligators and place headphones on their heads to learn more about how dinosaurs perceived sounds.

The researchers were able to study the neural maps (the routes used by sound waves to travel through the brain) which are developed by alligators as they learn to move through their habitats. These maps are essential for a high number of vertebrates, and they are very well-developed in the case of nocturnal predators like bats and barn owls, which use sound to track down and find their prey.

The study focused on a concept called interaural time difference(also known as ITD). According to the idea, there is a small pause in the travel of sound to each year. While this gap will last for a few microseconds, it can play a vital role for the predators who are actively looking for the next meal.

Alligators drugged with ketamine helped scientists learn more about how dinosaurs heard

Some of the researchers who participated in the experiment spend years on the study of ITD and how it can help select animal species to locate noises. Birds, alligators, and dinosaurs are related since they are all successors of the archosaurs, a particular dinosaur line which prospered during the Triassic Period. By harnessing the information obtained from the experiment the study allows the researchers to learn more about the auditory systems of the dinosaurs.

The features possessed by alligators and birds can be used to reasonable asses the means that allow the dinosaurs to localize sounds. Previous research has suggested that birds feature a different neural process of sound localization in comparison to mammals. The researchers wanted to place the American alligator on the ITD spectrum.

Some 40 American alligators from Louisiana were sedated with the help of ketamine and dexmedetomidine. A set of earbuds and sensors were placed on their heads, allowing the researchers to analyze their response to sounds. The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.


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