The Pest Control Blog North America

Cricket Fossil Sings a Tune

Pest control news come in all shapes and sizes, covering wasps in the summer and termites and ants in the spring. While most pests are a nuisance, few come with a soundtrack.

Enter the cricket.  Scientists from the US and China discovered a prehistoric insect fossil that has retained extraordinary detail. So extraordinary in fact, that the structures that make up their wings were visibly preserved when viewed under a microscope.

The species, named Archaboilus musicus, gave scientists a view into how crickets create their telltale sound, or chirp, as it’s known. Crickets make their music using their wings and a bow-like structure called the “plectrum”. The plectrum resides on one wing and is dragged across a microscopic comb-like structure on the other wing.  The comb-like structure gave researchers a strong indication of how Jurassic crickets chirp.

When viewed under a microscope, the anatomy of the prehistoric specimen indicates that crickets use these structures on their bodies much like a violinist guides their bow over violin strings. Measurements were taken and matched against the anatomy of modern day crickets to establish a baseline. The result enabled researchers to ascertain that the Jurassic cricket had a musical tone much lower than cricket species we encounter today.

While the sound coming from a cricket ten minutes into a solo is certainly not Mozart or Lady Gaga, it is interesting to note that the scientists set out to recreate a sound not heard in 165 million years. Have a listen here. While the ‘music’ is unlikely to sell out any arenas or concert halls, its still an amazing feat that scientists figured out a way to reproduce a sound not heard nor produced in the last 165 million years! Initially, scientists speculated that crickets evolved the ability to make these sounds as a modern day response to being startled. In fact, the reason why crickets chirp is as old as time itself: the serenade of an insect looking for a mate.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I know people that are deathly afraid of crickets and if they heard them singing they would break out in a sweat. I personally think their singing is unique and a cheerful sound – unless its in my bedroom and I can’t to sleep. 165 million years ago was indeed a very long time and is amazing that they can produce such things.

    • Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, there must be a phobia for every insect. I find cricket chirps soothing while lounging on my patio under a starlit sky. And I agree it’s amazing what science can do to bring the remote past into the present!

  2. Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Ben managed to include quite a few pest phobias in his blog post, but I’m sure there must be more…

    http://www.rentokil.co.za/blog/phobias-pest-fears-and-their-scientific-names/

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