3D micro-imaging allowed the team to investigate the internal anatomy of a diverse collection of bat specimens that were provided by Judith Eger, senior curator of mammalogy at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Students played a major role in the study, highlighting the important link between teaching and research. The joint first authors, Nina Veselka and David McErlain, are both Western students; co-author Kirsty Brain is a student at the University of Cambridge.
The original idea for the innovative study came from a radiologist, Dr. Rethy Chhem, who brought together biologists and imaging scientists at Western to apply non-destructive imaging to a basic biological research question. Scientists Matthew Mason at the University of Cambridge and Paul Faure at McMaster University provided the additional expertise in mammalian physiology and neurobiology needed to carry out the research. "This work is an important step forward in echolocation research because for years, scientists have been searching for a mechanism that would allow echolocating animals to a have a neural representation of their outgoing biosonar sounds for future comparison with reflected echoes of the sounds, and this anatomical discovery may be that mechanism," says Faure.
The small-animal micro-CT used in the study also has implications for clinicians and biophysicists working with animal models to identify and correct hearing impairments in humans. The results reported in the Nature article also are important because they emphasize the value of detailed, 3D
|Contact: Kathy Wallis|
University of Western Ontario