Fruit flies hear by spinning their noses

1:31pm, June 20, 2001

A kind of ear new to science, a swiveling structure that picks up odors as well as sounds, enables fruit flies to sense sounds.

"It's rather elegant," says Daniel Robert of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where he discovered the mechanism with colleague Martin Göpfert. Their equipment capable of measuring nanoscale vibrations reveals that in response to sound, a Drosophila antenna twists like a key in a lock. Robert and Göpfert report their findings in the June 21 Nature.

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