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Frog once believed deaf hears with its mouth

In a counterintuitive find, researchers reported that Gardiner’s frog hears with its mouth.

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Gardiner’s frogs have no middle ear, the region where the process of hearing usually begins. Instead, the frog hears with its mouth.

R. Boistel/French National Centre for Scientific Research

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When a Gardiner’s frog wants to listen, it doesn’t shut its mouth. It opens it.

Scientists have found that this tiny species of frog hears with its mouth, a find that upends the ideas that frogs must have a middle ear to hear and that this particular frog, lacking the critical body part, must be deaf. While researchers believe that other amphibians might also listen with their mouths, the Gardiner's frog is the first such species confirmed to do so.

“It’s a novel mechanism of hearing in frogs and tetrapods in general,” says Renaud Boistel, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and a co-author on the paper, in an email. “It remains to be seen if other tetrapods exploit the same mechanism.”

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