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Newly Found Species Has the Highest-Pitched Call Ever Recorded


A female Supersonus Image credit: University of Lincoln.

It is commonly known that supersonus can make calls of high notes. However, the scientists have found a new species in the genus of katydid in the rainforests of d Colombia and Ecuador. This new species is capable of producing mating calls in such a high pitch which was never recorded before for any arthropod, consisting of various insects and spiders by a large group.

Generally speaking, the mankind can hear the calls up to 20 kHz, but katydids are capable of producing calls between 5 kHz to 30 kHz so as to enjoy the singing of some species.

However, the new species in this group are very special in the way that they can produce calls as high as 150 kHz, which is far beyond the hearing ability of our own.

According to the research result published in PLOS ONE, it is found that the high-pitched calls could help these insects communicate with each other, but also avoid being easily overheard by bats, which are natural capturer of such insects. Even though some bats are capable of hearing such high frequencies, the calls of extreme ultrasonic can not travel far and are not possibly intercepted by bats easily.

As Fernando Montealegre-Z, a biomechanics expert at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom explains, when katydids are rubbed against one another, they would make the calls by their tiny wings to produce sound. Because their wings reach such pitches with the length of less than 1 millimeter, so the katydids cannot fly. When slowed down, the calls which humans can hear sound just like bouncing ping pong balls.

Journal reference: Sarria-S, Fabio A., et al. “Shrinking Wings for Ultrasonic Pitch Production: Hyperintense Ultra-Short-Wavelength Calls in a New Genus of Neotropical Katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae).” PloS one 9.6 (2014): e98708.