We describe the functional morphology of the singing apparatus of the cricket. There are three main functional sections of song mechanics, which partly overlap: (1) preparation for singing (lifting of the wings) and the reverse process (lowering of the wings at the end of the song); (2) singing movements (closing and opening of the wings); and (3) movements that adjust the pressure of the plectrum on the file (engagement force). In the case of song preparation, the mesotergum + first axillaries + second axillaries + wings form a functional unit. This unit is moved around a transverse hinge axis, which runs through both fulcrum joints. The muscles suitable for wing lifting are the prothoracic furca muscle and the mesothoracic tegula muscle. Those suitable for wing lowering are the prothoracic dorsolongitudinal muscles and the mesothoracic axillary 4, subalar and furca muscles. Lifting and lowering of the wings are superimposed by bistable mechanisms, which are adjustable (mesothoracic medial dorsolongitudinal muscles). In the case of closing movements (dorsoventral muscles) and opening movements (basalar and subalar muscles), the mesotergum and the wings are moved relative to each other, as for flight movements, but with the wings remaining folded back. The mesotergum is rotated down (closing) and up (opening) around a transverse hinge axis that runs through the caudal joints between the mesotergum and postnota. The path of movement of the wing and its sound-generating structure (i.e. plectrum or file respectively) is determined by an obliquely oriented hinge axis between the mesotergum and first axillary. During opening and closing, the lifted singing position of the wings is stabilized by the medial dorsolongitudinal muscles. We also discuss the role of other muscles that affect singing movements. The third axillary (and its muscle) and the postnotum [and its muscles, the furca muscle and the lateral (short) dorsolongitudinal muscle] are the main elements in the system that adjusts the engagement force of the wings. When left axillary 3 muscle contracts, the medial part of the left third axillary is rotated caudally (in its vertical hinge joint with the first median plate) against the anal part of the wing. The anal part is bent and rotated upwards, increasing the pressure of the left plectrum against the right file. Conversely, the right axillary 3 muscle, which moves the file away from the plectrum, is able to reduce the pressure. The left furca muscle (the antagonist of left axillary 3 muscle) and the left lateral (short) dorsolongitudinal muscle (the 'synergist' of left axillary 3 muscle), and the corresponding muscles on the right side (which have opposite functions), allow a large range of different engagement forces. The results are compared with the work of other authors on the functional morphology of this system and with the results of electrophysiological investigations. New aspects of the evolution of the singing mechanisms are discussed.

This content is only available via PDF.