Listening for sound
whilst deep underground requires
middle ears to hear.
Animals living in different environments will face different auditory challenges. To investigate how environment shapes evolution Koyabu et al (2017) compared middle ear morphology across terrestrial, aquatic and subterranean species from the order eulipotyphla (including hedgehogs, moles and shrews).
They found that a subterranean lifestyle involved adaptations that allow for improved sound transmission at low frequencies and reduced transmission of bone-conducted vibrations. The adaptations observed included “a relatively shorter anterior process of the malleus, an enlarged incus, an enlarged staples footplate and a reduction of the orbicular apophysis”.
Original research: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170608