Background on Fish Hearing

Anatomy of a fish ear (saccule and lagena of a salmon)

Anatomy of a fish ear (drawing of the different parts of the ear)

Ultrastructure of a sensory hair cell (TEM from a moray eel)

Hair cell orientation patterns as demonstrated with SEM

Ultrastructure of ear sensory surfaces obtained using SEM

Ultrastructure of sensory cells obtained using TEM

Sound detection capabilities of teleost fishes


Ernst Heinrich WeberE. H. Weber

Ernst Weber was on of the early pioneers in fish hearing. In 1820 he puplished a monumental book entitled De Aure Animalium Aquatilium which provided detailed anatomical drawings of the head and ears of a variety of fish species. One of the things he described were a set of bones that connect the inner ear to the swim bladder in Otophysan fishes. These bones, which are now known as the Weberian ossicles, are thought to enhance hearing in these fishes.

To download a copy of a number of the plates from this book in a zip file go to: Weber Pictures

You can find English captions for the figures in  the book Sound Reception in Fishes editd by Professor William N. Tavolga (1976).  This book, which contains translations into English of a number of very important research papers on fish hearing is no longer in print but you can probably find it in many libraries.

You can see the original book at Weber book. Figure legends are also in this book and translation is relatively easy.

These images were taken from a copy of Weber that is in the library of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Dr. Tavolga had one of the photographers at the Museum take the picutres from the book. The photographer spent a good deal of time on this, and using various photographic techniques (this was in the 1970's so there were not digital techniques to improve images) he was able to remove many of the signs of age from the images, including watermarks and yellowing.  In looking at the higher resolution images of the pictures (either click on the images below or download the zip file) you'll see remarkable detail. 

Plate 3  Plate V Plate VB  Plate IIIb Plate III Plate VII

  Plate VIII  Platte VI Plate IX Plate X Plate I

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