The auditory tympana in the quail, Coturnix coturnix japonica (L.) are internally coupled by an interaural air space. Unilaterally applied sound causing vibration of the ipsilateral tympanum is conducted through the interauralcavity to the inside surface of the contralateral tympanum. In a free soundfield at frequencies up to 3150 Hz, sound pressure at the external surface of the tympanum contralateral to the source is within about 3 dB of the pressure exterior to the ipsilateral tympanum. Sound pressures developed at the inner surfaces of the tympana are of similar amplitude to the external pressures at several frequencies in the range 800–6300 Hz. In addition, pressure ateach side of the tympanum ipsilateral to the source are generally out of phase, whereas pressures at each side of the contralateral tympanum are relatively close to the same phase. From measurements of amplitude and phase of the interacting pressures at the tympanum, the calculated driving pressure at the ipsilateral tympanum exceeds that at the contralateral tympanum by 10–20 dB over a range of frequencies. The auditory tympana in quail have considerable inherent directionality, therefore, due to their function aspressure-gradient receivers. Anatomical analogies with anurans and reptiles indicate that they derive directional hearing from the same acoustic mechanism that operates in the quail.

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