Chirp Across the Chasm

There simply is no insight more rewarding, lasting, and revealing than inquiry and discovery of our natural world through evidence and research. Seriously, how many days and nights have you hiked through a forest and wondered what it really sounded like in the Age of Dinosaurs? My childhood imaginations would run wild, fueled after watching Land of the Lost’s stop-motion beasties. Even as an adult I would marvel at what strange sounds Parasaurolophus or The Best Dinosaur would have sounded like. Did they roar? Hiss? Trill? Chirp? Gleefully, paleontologists aren’t content to merely wonder, but their wonder drives them to interpret all the delicious fossil evidence to get some real answers to not just how things walked, ate and flew, but what they truly sounded like, slowly bringing forth an ancient chorus, one painstaking note at a time.

The latest bit of paleo-awesome is the recent report of the Jurassic Katydid Archaboilus musicus , which unlike Parasaurolophus, has a lot of modern living cousins to compare instruments with. Combined with a fossil specimen so complete they could micro-analyze its wing morphology, scientists have been able to reconstruct its song:

I love the incredible bell-like ring of bush crickets to begin with, but add to the fact that this ancient instrument hasn’t been played in over 165 million years, and I’m just enraptured.

And if that wasn’t insect-art-y enough, some silly modern ape-lad has gone and made a song about the song, singing along in time with the reconstituted stridulations:

So there you have it, a bunch of paleontologists hunched over mathematical models of wing venation has added more infectious wonder to the world that wasn’t there before.  Curiosity leads to inquiry which leads to research and testing which leads to more marvel. Finding out the true depth of this world doesn’t take away from the wonder, it only adds. Doesn’t that make you want to sing?

Chirp! z end

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