During the breeding season, each tympanic membrane of males of the Old World treefrog Petropedetes parkeri is decorated with a single, prominent, fleshy tympanic papilla. The tympanic papilla, located dorsally on the tympanic membrane, is covered by an epidermal surface and is composed of non-ossified, spongiform tissue containing a number of globular, fluid-filled vesicles found at highest density near the papillar tip. These vesicles appear to have exit pores and are probably simple alveolar exocrine glands. Injecting sound into the pressurized vocal cavity of the male and measuring the vibration velocity response of the tympanic membrane revealed that from 0.3 to 2.0 kHz the tympanic papilla velocity amplitude is on average 20 dB lower than that of a point diametrically opposite on the ventral half of the tympanic membrane. The close agreement between the dominant frequency of the call and the frequency of the maximum spectral peak of the Fast Fourier Transform of the impulse response of the eardrum is consistent with the use of the eardrum in this species both as a call receiver and as a call radiator, similar to the function suggested for the eardrum of the male bullfrog Rana catesbeiana. Unexpectedly, surgically removing the tympanic papilla lowered the frequency of the peak vibrational amplitude, testifying to the importance of membrane tension as a dominant factor in the vibratory behavior of the eardrum. During normal positive-pressure breathing, the tympanic papillae move conspicuously, suggesting a possible role as a visual signal.

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