Supplementary Figures from Non-invasive biophysical measurement of travelling waves in the insect inner ear

Frequency analysis in the mammalian cochlea depends on the propagation of frequency information in the form of a travelling wave (TW) across tonotopically arranged auditory sensilla. TWs have been directly observed in the basilar papilla of birds and the ears of bush-crickets (Insecta: Orthoptera) and have also been indirectly inferred in the hearing organs of some reptiles and frogs. Existing experimental approaches to measure TW function in tetrapods and bush-crickets are inherently invasive, compromising the fine-scale mechanics of each system. Located in the forelegs, the bush-cricket ear exhibits outer, middle and inner components; the inner ear containing tonotopically arranged auditory sensilla within a fluid-filled cavity, and externally protected by the leg cuticle. Here, we report bush-crickets with transparent ear cuticles as potential model species for direct, non-invasive measuring of TWs and tonotopy. Using laser Doppler vibrometry and spectroscopy, we show that increased transmittance of light through the ear cuticle allows for effective non-invasive measurements of TWs and frequency mapping. More transparent cuticles allow several properties of TWs to be precisely recovered and measured <i>in vivo</i> from intact specimens. Our approach provides an innovative, non-invasive alternative to measure the natural motion of the sensillia-bearing surface embedded in the intact inner ear fluid.