Ultrasonic Frog

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Ultrasonic frog found, according to reports in Nature, vol. 440, p333 and news@nature, 15 March 2006 and ABC (Australia) News, 16 March 2006 and New Scientist, 18 March 2006, p21. Scientists studying a rare Chinese frog have discovered it can communicate by ultrasound – very high pitched sounds that are above the range that human ears can hear. The frog is named the "concave eared torrent frog", because unlike other frogs, the male frog’s ear drums are recessed into its head, and it lives in places where there are lots of turbulent flowing streams and waterfalls.

Albert Feng, an acoustic specialist at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana recorded the male frog’s audible and ultrasonic sounds and then played the sounds to other male frogs to see if they responded. They did. He then blocked their ears with clay and played ultrasonic sounds again. The frogs did not respond, indicating that their unusual ears enabled them to hear the ultrasounds. Hearing ultrasound requires thin eardrums and small middle ear bones. Being recessed into the head protects the eardrum and makes the middle ear smaller.

Female frogs do not have recessed ears, but researchers have not tested them to see what sounds they can hear. The suggestion has been made that ultrasound enables the frogs to communicate in an environment filled with constant low frequency noise from the waterfalls and turbulent water. Feng commented: "Nature has a way of evolving mechanisms to facilitate communication in very adverse situations."

Editorial Comment: Ultrasonic communication may explain why this frog can live successfully in this type of environment, but the constant noise of flowing water does not explain how the frog’s larynx, ears and brain were formed so that it can produce, hear and successfully interpret ultrasounds. Feng’s statement about "nature" evolving mechanisms to cope with adverse environments is pure faith. There is no known mechanism where a noisy environment can alter the genes involved in building a frog’s head so that it has all the features needed for ultrasonic communication. It is a far more logical faith to believe that a purposeful Creator made a frog with all such features, and it probably exists in other as yet untested frogs. (Ref. sound, ecology, amphibians)

Evidence News 27 April 2006

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