Auditory mechanics in the grig (Cyphoderris monstrosa): tympanal travelling waves and frequency discrimination as a precursor to inner ear tonotopy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Ensiferan orthopterans offer a key study system for acoustic communication and the process of insect hearing. Cyphoderris monstrosa (Hagloidea) belongs to a relict ensiferan family and is often used for evolutionary comparisons between bushcrickets (Tettigoniidae) and their ancestors. Understanding how this species processes sound is therefore vital to reconstructing the evolutionary history of ensiferan hearing. Previous investigations have found a mismatch in the ear of this species, whereby neurophysiological and tympanal tuning does not match the conspecific communication frequency. However, the role of the whole tympanum in signal reception remains unknown. Using laser Doppler vibrometry, we show that the tympana are tonotopic, with higher frequencies being received more distally. The tympana use two key modalities to mechanically separate sounds into two auditory receptor populations. Frequencies below approximately 8 kHz generate a basic resonant mode in the proximal end of the tympanum, whereas frequencies above approximately 8 kHz generate travelling waves in the distal region. Micro-CT imaging of the ear and the presented data suggest that this tonotopy of the tympana drive the tonotopic mechanotransduction of the crista acustica (CA). This mechanism represents a functional intermediate between simple tuned tympana and the complex tonotopy of the bushcricket CA.

published proceedings

  • Proc Biol Sci

altmetric score

  • 7.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Woodrow, C., Pulver, C., Song, H., & Montealegre-Z, F.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Woodrow, Charlie||Pulver, Christian||Song, Hojun||Montealegre-Z, Fernando

publication date

  • April 2022