Scientists Gave Alligators Ketamine and Headphones to Understand Dinosaurs

Scientists dosed alligators with ketamine and had them listen to sounds through earbuds to better understand the auditory abilities of dinosaurs.

The experiment, described in a paper published Monday in The Journal of Neuroscience, was designed to study the “neural maps”—brain passageways that carry information about soundwaves—that alligators generate to locate noises in their habitats. These maps are vital for many vertebrates, and are especially developed in nocturnal predators such as barn owls because they rely heavily on sound to locate prey.

The focus of the study was a concept called interaural time difference (ITD), which is the gap in arrival time of a sound to each ear. Though this time lag is typically only a few microseconds, it plays a crucial role in helping animals detect where sounds originate.

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