BBC One documentary features academic’s research

​Research into the hearing abilities of bushcrickets by the School of Life Sciences Dr Fernando Montealegre-Z has been featured by the BBC.

Brought forward from its original transmission date, Super Senses: The Secret Power of Animals was screened by BBC One at 8pm on Tuesday, 26th August.

The series explores the hidden world that animals experience through their senses. The ‘Sound’ episode featured research by Dr Montealegre-Z, who studies how bushcrickets or ‘ katydids’ evolved incredible ultrasonic hearing abilities.

A cochlear organ for frequency selectivity was thought to be unique to hearing in mammals until a similar mechanism for frequency analysis was found in the ears of bushcrickets in South American rainforests two years ago.

Scientists believe the discovery of this previously unidentified hearing organ could pave the way for technological advancements in bio-inspired acoustic sensors, including medical imaging devices and hearing aids.

Dr Montealegre-Z has recently been awarded a £250,000 research grant from The Leverhulme Trust, to further develop an integrated understanding of the evolution of ultrasonic hearing in bushcrickets; specifically how they developed cochlear-like systems in response to changing evolutionary pressures over millions of years.

The episode can be seen here on BBC iPlayer, with the segment on Fernando’s research starting at 50 minutes. It can be viewed until 9th September, 2014.