Bug to bat for hard of hearing
A DIFFERENT kind of cricket is being played at the CSIRO as scientists discover the notso- little insect may help those with hearing impairments.
Australian scientists believe the king cricket, an insect true to its name in size and nature, could help in the development of the next generation of hearing aids.
CSIRO postdoctoral fellow Dr Kate Lomas has been working to uncover the secret behind a unique lipid inside the cricket’s ear.
Lipids are usually known as fatty or waxy compounds; Dr Lomas said she had been researching the insect as part of her PhD when she came across the new discovery.
“It was really unique: the only other animal to use lipids in hearing is the whale. I thought then that this could actually have an impact on future technology.
“These are animals people often dismiss as pests but they actually have really valuable things to offer,” she said.
Dr Lomas hopes that further research will lead to new hearing technology fit for a king.
“The best- case scenario would be the development of a hearing device from this research.
“There are lots of things that have come out of our insect system; it just highlights how important our surroundings are,” she said.
LENDING AN EAR: CSIRO’s Dr Kate Lomas with a female Australian king cricket.