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Acoustic distance discrimination by the cod


Recent experiments have shown that the cod, Gadus morhua L., is able to determine the direction of a sound source without ambiguity in three-dimensional space1,2. This ability can be explained in terms of the detection of particle acceleration by the otolith organs of the labyrinth, which are strongly directional in their response to oscillatory motion3,4. Ambiguities in determining the direction of propagation are resolved by the fish detecting phase differences between the particle acceleration and the sound pressure2,5. The phase relationship between these two quantities varies with distance from a source, and might therefore provide distance cues to the fish2,6. We now report an experiment performed in the field which confirms that cod can discriminate between pure tones emitted alternately from two aligned sound projectors at different distances. Our results suggest that the cod is well able to locate low-frequency sound sources in three-dimensional space.

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Schuijf, A., Hawkins, A. Acoustic distance discrimination by the cod. Nature 302, 143–144 (1983).

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