Katydids had the earliest known insect ears 160 million years ago

Over 100 million years ago, the chirps of insects known as katydids dominated the sounds of Earth’s nights. Now, fossils reveal what the katydid ears that heard those sounds looked like.

Twenty-four fossils of roughly 160 million-year-old katydids unearthed in China represent the earliest known insect ears, researchers report December 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These ancient sensors of sound — identical to the ones found on today’s katydids — may have picked up the first short-range, high-frequency calls of any kind, helping the insects hide from predators.

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