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The hummingbird syrinx morphome: a detailed three-dimensional description of the black jacobin’s vocal organ


Monte, Amanda; Cerwenka, Alexander F; Ruthensteiner, Bernhard; Gahr, Manfred; Düring, Daniel N (2020). The hummingbird syrinx morphome: a detailed three-dimensional description of the black jacobin’s vocal organ. BMC Zoology, 5:7.

Abstract

Background

The ability to imitate sounds depends on a process called vocal production learning, a rare evolutionary trait. In addition to the few mammalian groups that possess this ability, vocal production learning has evolved independently in three avian clades: songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds. Although the anatomy and mechanisms of sound production in songbirds are well understood, little is known about the hummingbird’s vocal anatomy.
Results

We use high-resolution micro-computed tomography (μCT) and microdissection to reveal the three-dimensional structure of the syrinx, the vocal organ of the black jacobin (Florisuga fusca), a phylogenetically basal hummingbird species. We identify three features of the black jacobin’s syrinx: (i) a shift in the position of the syrinx to the outside of the thoracic cavity and the related loss of the sterno-tracheal muscle, (ii) complex intrinsic musculature, oriented dorso-ventrally, and (iii) ossicles embedded in the medial vibratory membranes.
Conclusions

The extra-thoracic placement of the black jacobin’s syrinx and the dorso-ventrally oriented musculature likely aid to uncoupling syrinx movements from extensive flight-related thorax constraints. The syrinx morphology further allows for vibratory decoupling, precise control of complex acoustic parameters, and a large motor redundancy that may be key biomechanical factors leading to acoustic complexity and thus facilitating the occurrence of vocal production learning.

Abstract

Background

The ability to imitate sounds depends on a process called vocal production learning, a rare evolutionary trait. In addition to the few mammalian groups that possess this ability, vocal production learning has evolved independently in three avian clades: songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds. Although the anatomy and mechanisms of sound production in songbirds are well understood, little is known about the hummingbird’s vocal anatomy.
Results

We use high-resolution micro-computed tomography (μCT) and microdissection to reveal the three-dimensional structure of the syrinx, the vocal organ of the black jacobin (Florisuga fusca), a phylogenetically basal hummingbird species. We identify three features of the black jacobin’s syrinx: (i) a shift in the position of the syrinx to the outside of the thoracic cavity and the related loss of the sterno-tracheal muscle, (ii) complex intrinsic musculature, oriented dorso-ventrally, and (iii) ossicles embedded in the medial vibratory membranes.
Conclusions

The extra-thoracic placement of the black jacobin’s syrinx and the dorso-ventrally oriented musculature likely aid to uncoupling syrinx movements from extensive flight-related thorax constraints. The syrinx morphology further allows for vibratory decoupling, precise control of complex acoustic parameters, and a large motor redundancy that may be key biomechanical factors leading to acoustic complexity and thus facilitating the occurrence of vocal production learning.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2020
Deposited On:03 Feb 2021 11:46
Last Modified:04 Feb 2021 21:01
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:2056-3132
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40850-020-00057-3

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