Scientists gave alligators ketamine and headphones to study dinosaur hearing
While the human medical uses for ketamine are still being explored, German and American scientists are making great use of the drug on another front. Looking to learn about neural maps and hearing in prehistoric creatures, biologists Lutz Kettler and Catherine Carr injected 40 American alligators with ketamine and gave them headphones in a recent study.
Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the paper aims to learn more about how dinosaurs were able to hear by using their closest living descendant—the alligator, which has been on Earth for more than 200 million years. After sedating the alligators with ketamine, the creatures were equipped with Yuin PK2 earbuds, which played sounds meant to imitate natural noises from a variety of distances and locations. Tracking their neural responses with electrodes, the scientists found out that alligators hearing works quite similar to that of birds, another direct descendant of prehistoric creatures. Insights gained from this study include the affirmation that birds and alligators both evolved from similar dinosaur ancestors, and that the hearing functions of alligators and birds have evolved similarly over millions of years, even with the drastic variations in animal size and anatomy.