Not many of us are aware that male crickets croon a love song to entice female counterparts and repel those of the same gender. One such mating song possibly sung by an extinct cricket nearly 165 million years back has been unleashed by scientists at the Bristol University.
This song is probably the most primitive track documented up till now. It has been reconstructed from the microscopic wing attributes on a fossil uncovered in North East China. Audiences now have an opportunity to listen to acoustics that would have been once heard by dinosaurs and other primates roaming through Jurassic forests during night time.
The researchers stumbled upon an extremely detailed bushcricket fossil hailing from the Mid Jurassic era. The wing features were apparently well-conserved which allowed for precise exploration of its stridulating organs. The latter are those which primarily produce sounds by rubbing of specific parts together.
The team dubbed this fossil as Archaboilus musicus and probed into its song producing instruments. This musical apparatus was pitted against a set of 59 live bushcricket species. The team concluded that this breed would have generated musical songs with pure and single frequencies.
Professor Daniel Robert, expert in the biomechanics of singing and hearing in insects, commented, “Singing loud and clear advertises the presence, location and quality of the singer, a message that females choose to respond to – or not. Using a single tone, the male’s call carries further and better, and therefore is likely to serenade more females. However, it also makes the male more conspicuous to predators if they have also evolved ears to eavesdrop on these mating calls.”
The investigators could reconstruct the songs sung by Archaboilus via detailed morphology. They believed that musicus’ every wave of singing may have continued for 16 seconds at a tone fine-tuned at 6.4kHz. This seemed to give the scientists a fair idea of the song after which they recreated it.
The findings are published in the journal, PNAS.