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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Picture of a naked mole-rat with an image of semi-circular canals

Working with Ewan Smith from Pharmacology and a team from Belgium, Matt Mason has been investigating how the anatomy of the semi-circular canals links to function in different mammals. The semi-circular canals are involved in the detection of head rotations and can be used to determine aspects of head orientation. The team found that the canals are particularly wide in subterranean mammals such as the naked mole-rat. Mathematical models of canal function suggest that this improves canal sensitivity, which might be useful to mole-rats when navigating within dark, underground tunnels.

Goyens, J., Baeckens, S., Smith, E.S., Pozzi, J. & Mason, M.J. (2022) Parallel evolution of semicircular canal form and sensitivity in subterranean mammals. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 208: 627-640.