Bug to bat for hard of hear­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CLAIRE MARTIN

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.

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