News & Opinion | March 19, 2019 5:16 pm

Scientists Drugged Alligators In Order To Understand Dinosaur Hearing

The reptiles were drugged with ketamine as part of an unusual experiment.

orange alligator
An orange aligator was spotted in south Carolina. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

By drugging a bunch of alligators with ketamine, scientists think they have discovered how dinosaurs were able to locate sounds in their environment.

In an attempt to better understand how dinosaurs were able to hear the sounds of their world millions of years ago, the scientists tried to recreate the environment by using earbuds on drugged alligators. The tranquilized reptiles then listened to sounds, after which their handlers studied the neural maps of the alligator’s brains.

“Birds are dinosaurs and alligators are their closest living relatives,” Catherine Carr, a biologist at the University of Maryland, told Motherboard. “Features shared by both groups might reasonably be inferred to have been found in extinct dinosaurs so we assume dinosaurs could localize sound.”

The study revealed that like birds, alligators uses similar neural mapping systems to locate sounds.

“One important thing we learn from alligators is that head size does not matter in how their brain encodes sound direction,” Lutz Kettler, who has been studying animals locate sounds for years, explained to Motherboard.