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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Structure and function of the mammalian middle ear in small desert mammals

Article by Matt Mason awarded runner up Best Paper Prize 2016 by the Journal of Anatomy

In this paper, Dr. Mason used the new Micro-CT facility in Zoology to create cross-sectional and three-dimensional images of the skulls and ear regions of small desert mammals.

The most extraordinary ears were found in a Namibian elephant shrew, in which the volume of the two middle ear cavities together (shaded red in the skull reconstruction) exceeded the volume of the brain. Enlarged middle ear cavities, found in many small desert mammals, are believed to augment low-frequency sound transmission, useful for communication across long distances in a desert environment.

References: Matthew J. Mason, (2016), Structure and function of the mammalian middle ear. I: Large middle ears in small desert mammal, Journal of Anatomy, Volume 228, Issue 2, pages 284-299, February 2016