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Exceptionally preserved fossil insect ears from the Eocene Green River Formation of Colorado

  • Roy E. Plotnick (a1) and Dena M. Smith (a2)

Tympanal ears in insects are important for both intraspecific communication and for the detection of nocturnal predators. Ears are thought, based on modern forms, to have originated independently multiple times within insects and can be found on multiple regions of the body. Here we describe and document the exceptionally well preserved tympanal ears found in crickets and katydids from the Eocene Green River Formation of Colorado, which are virtually identical to those seen in modern representatives of these groups. These specimens are among the best preserved insect ears in the fossil record and establish the presence of ears in two major clades of Orthoptera 50 million years ago. Also discussed and evaluated are previously described insect ears from the Mesozoic and the implications of the findings of the present study for studying the evolution of ears within insects.

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Journal of Paleontology
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