Scientists enjoy conducting bizarre experiments, but this one may take the cake. According to a paper published by The Journal of Neuroscience, two scientists conducted an experiment using alligators and ketamine in order to learn about dinosaurs. Seriously.
Biologists Lutz Kettler of the Technische Universität München and the University of Maryland’s Catherine Carr dosed the alligators with Special K and went on to give them headphones in the hope of navigating “neural maps” to see how the animals identify sounds. The scientists were hoping that the experiment would give them a better understanding of how dinosaurs were able to hear.
“Interaural time difference (ITD) is an important cue for sound localization, and the optimal strategies for encoding ITD in neuronal populations are the subject of ongoing debate. We show that alligators form maps of ITD very similar to birds, suggesting that their common archosaur ancestor reached a stable coding solution different from mammals,” the report states.
“Mammals and diapsids evolved tympanic hearing independently, and local optima can be reached in evolution that are not considered by global optimal coding models. Thus, the presence of ITD maps in the brain stem may reflect a local optimum in evolutionary development. Our results underline the importance of comparative animal studies and show that optimal models must be viewed in the light of evolutionary processes.”
Throughout the experiment, 40 alligators were downing the ketamine.
As it turns out, the research showed a link between alligators and birds, which are the second oldest living relatives to dinosaurs.
“We conclude that the available acoustic cues and the architecture of the acoustic system in early archosaurs led to a stable and similar organization in today’s birds and crocodiles,” the paper states. “Although physical features, like internally coupled ears, head size or shape, and audible frequency range, vary among the two groups.”
Who knew that science could be so fun?