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Keywords:

  • echolocation;
  • hearing;
  • lower jaw;
  • dolphin;
  • Tursiops truncatus

Abstract

On the basis of disputed physiological evidence the fat-filled lower jaw of odontocete cetaceans has previously been hypothesized as the primary pathway to the inner ear for acoustic signals. To gain behavioral evidence, a dolphin was trained to perform an echolocation task while wearing suction cups over its eyes and either of two neoprene robber hoods over its lower jaw. One hood allowed returning acoustic signals to pass. The other substantially attenuated such signals. The dolphin's performance was significantly hindered while wearing the attenuating hood (P <. 001, ψ2) as would be expected if the lower jaw was critically important in the reception of high frequency signals.