Photo: Humming Fish Reveal Ancient Origin of Vocalization



Male toadfish—such as the Gulf toadfish above—and their close relatives midshipman fish grunt, growl, and hum to attract mates and defend their territories.

A July 2008 study of the fishes' larvae shows that the brain region that controls their vocalizations develops in the same way as in other vertebrates, including birds, amphibians, and primates.

The finding suggests that the neural mechanism for vocalizing is much more ancient than scientists had realized, likely appearing in animals 400 million years ago.

Photograph courtesy Margaret A. Marchaterre, Cornell University


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