A group of researchers has just discovered a new whale species, with the name ”Echo Hunter” . The reason for naming it so is because of its super-hearing. Scientists say that they can gain more knowledge about the evolution of high-frequency hearing in the earliest animals.
Researchers from the New York Institute of Technology examined a fossil that was dated to 27 million years ago! The fossil had an intact skull, which helped the team get more information about the ears of whales. It is said that it is one of the most well-preserved fossils ever found. Study co-author Jonathan Geisler explained that there had been a small, toothed whale that had used its sense of hearing to find food, only by using echoes. If you did not know by now, whales had incredible hearing properties. Its structure allows whales to hear sounds that humans are not able to.
Moreover, scientists did previous studies which enabled them to conclude that whales could hear at high frequencies. The new whale species proved it was 27 million years ago when their hearing evolved. The lead author of the study, Mr. Morgan Churchill was very pleased as they were also able to say where the fossil fits in the tree of life. And they are not stopping as more whale fossils were found on the same site, in South Carolina. Maybe the researchers will find out more about the evolution of these amazing creatures.
The toothed whales have a unique adaptation: echolocation, which means they are using frequencies and sounds in order to hunt and navigate. There are more than 5000 species of mammals living today, but only this kind of whales and bats use echolocation. Using this feature, whales can locate their food easier. They produce sounds by moving air between air-spaces or sinuses in the head. After that, toothed whales are receiving back ( in their middle ear) sounds from other animals.
There are two types of frequencies: the low one, that whales use especially when they just want to get more information about the environment. This includes how deep is the water if there are any obstacles or how far they can found animals under water. It seems that high frequencies are used only when they want to attack or disorient other animals. The new whale species that was discovered had a super hearing, which allowed them to be one of the most interesting and dangerous animals in the world.
Image source: Wikipedia