The Common Descent Podcast

Episode 52 – Sounds of the Past (Fossil Bioacoustics)

January 12, 2019

What did dinosaurs sound like? How did extinct animals make and use sound? Like most behaviors, noises don’t fossilize, but there is some tantalizing evidence that paleontologists have pulled together about fossil bioacoustics. In this episode, we discuss how pop-culture may have misled us, and how scientists have gathered actual clues from living animals and the fossil record – and have even made scientifically-inspired ancient audios! – to reconstruct the sounds of the past.

In the news: hatchling insects, bird brains, old flowers, and dinosaur noses.  

There are some noises in this episode! The living and reconstructed-fossil sounds we played came from these sources:

Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) Roger Charters/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML202485)

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) George B. Reynard/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML163792)

Parasaurolophus sound bite by Sandia National Laboratories and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science with Paleontologist Tom Williamson and computer scientist Carl Diegert

Katydid Stridulation from Jun-Jie Gu et al 2012. Wing stridulation in a Jurassic katydid (Insecta, Orthoptera) produced low-pitched musical calls to attract females, PNAS (Open access)

All the other animal noises were just made by us!

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The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome.
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Muscial Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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