A lot has happened over the past 3 years with our research project on the evolution of ear loss in toads. The overall project aims to understand why many species of frogs and toads have independently lost their middle and outer ear structures, which are key to hearing on land. The project is focused on toads (the bufonidae familiy) and is integrating neurophysiology (hearing data), morphology (histology, 3D reconstructions and CT scans) and development (tracking morphology and developmental rate across eared and earless species) to try and explain this widespread phenomena of ear loss.
Here are some highlights to start things off:
- Dr. Kim Hoke received a CAREER grant for this project in 2013.
- I have been collected hearing data of 12 focal toad species (5 earless, 7 eared) from Ecuador and Peru.
- I have made 3D reconstructions of the ear and surrounding tissue/structures from histological sections of all 12 focal toad species for comparative morphology and investigation of alternative hearing strategies.
- I have collected CT scan data for the 12 focal species and am currently adding 50+ additional species from the Smithsonian.
- Our lab recently snagged an amazing post doc (Jenny Stynoski) to spearhead the development side of the earless project, investigating how these 12 focal species differ in developmental timing and morphology.