Researchers have created a new device that may be instrumental in creating the next generation of hearing aids. And the tiny animal that helped them do it? A fly.
Wondering what a fly has to do with hearing aids? Insects usually aren’t good at pinpointing the source of a sound because their bodies are so small that the sound hits both of their ears at just about the same time. But a certain fly- Ormia ochracea- has a unique sound-processing mechanism that adjusts for this, and the fly is incredibly accurate at determining the source of sounds.
Researchers have replicated the fly’s hearing mechanism in the form of a device that is only 2 mm wide. Many hearing aid users have problems sorting out noises, and this technology may be able to improve directional hearing aids and help users determine the direction of the sound much more accurately. Read more about it here:
Past research has suggested a mechanism for the formation of distinct stripes (did you know that stripes are magnetic?), but new research helps to explain the evolution of these beautiful patterns.
Researchers at UC Davis looked at the geographical ranges of zebras and some of their closest geographic relatives, and surprisingly, they found that camouflage, temperature, or environment variations weren’t nearly as significant as the presence of flies. It appears that in parts of the world where biting flies are more of a problem, the amount of body striping is increased.
The evolution of the zebra’s stripes may have just gotten more interesting! We know that horseflies avoid striped surfaces, and understanding how and why certain animal characteristics evolved can be really important. Not only can it help us in conservation efforts, but we can potentially use this information to develop new techniques that can help humans and companion animals! I see some zebra-striped fly sheets in my horse’s future…