Ultrasonic Communication Among Frogs Image 2
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Ultrasonic Communication Among Frogs (Image 2)

June 23, 2010
Ultrasonic Communication Among Frogs (Image 2) Albert Feng with a photo of a Chinese concave-eared torrent frog, the first amphibian known to communicate in ultrasound. Feng, a molecular physiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), discovered that concave-eared torrent frogs can communicate ultrasonically--at frequencies five times higher than humans can hear--making them the first non-mammalian species documented to communicate using ultrasonic sound. Most amphibians, birds and reptiles have a hearing limit of about 12 kilohertz, but some mammals including bats and whales use ultrasonic frequencies for communication. Humans generally cannot hear sounds above 20 kilohertz. Feng believes these amphibians--who spend most of their time near mountain streams in China's Huangshan Hot Springs--developed the ability to communicate using frequencies great than 128 kilohertz so they could be "heard" over the background noise created by the water. Feng's research is partly funded by the Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) program, a joint effort of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The program supports innovative, interdisciplinary research that will yield a better understanding of how nervous systems function normally as well as when diseased. To learn more about Feng's research, see the UIUC news release "Rare Chinese Frogs Communicate by Means of Ultrasonic Sound." (Date of Image: 2006) [One of 2 related images. See Next Image.]

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