Monday, November 4, 2013

Ryans' ribbeter

When biologists Michael Ryan of the University of Texas at Austin and Ryan Taylor of Salisbury University wanted to study the mating behavior of the tiny túngara frog, they had to special order a stand-in for the male. They wanted to vary the order and timing of the calls he makes to potential mates by inflating a vocal sac beneath his chin (IMAGE HERE). Since the wild frogs don't perform on cue, they worked with the design studio Moey to make a miniature robot (IMAGE ABOVE). Components include an external speaker and a remote control pneumatic pump. When Ryan and Taylor took it to Panama to test it in the field, Popular Science reports, "The real female frogs were quite impressed."

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