• Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jul, 23, 2014, 10:56 AM
Parasitic Fly
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons) The parasitic fly is known for its cruel and parasitic breeding process.
Researchers are taking note of the sensitive hearing of parasitic flies to develop the next generation of hearing aids. The remarkably sensitive hearing of parasitic flies helps them find their prey even in poorly lit environments, writes Nature World News. Now researchers think this same super-hearing could one day help deaf humans hear. The study, which is described in the journal Applied Physics Letters, describes how researchers at the University of Texas Austin have developed a prototype device that mimics the unique hearing mechanisms of the Ormia ochracea fly. This tiny fly is noted for its cruel and parasitic breeding process. Scientists have observed the flies home in on male crickets and inject their larvae directly into the exoskeleton, writes Nature World News.  
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The larvae eventually eat their way out in a metamorphosis event reminiscent of the sci-fi classic Alien. To find its prey, researchers suspect that the fly simply follows the chirps, tracing cricket songs back to the singing male. However, according to the standard understanding of hearing - that level of hearing accuracy should be impossible in insects as small as the parasitic fly. According to the American Institute of Physics, acute hearing occurs when the brain discerns the location of a sound's source based on how quickly a sound wave hits each ear. For instance - if a sound were to hit the left eardrum first, and then the right, it is clear that the sound's source is closer to the left. O. ochracea is too small for this to work, with most sound waves hitting its ears nearly simultaneously, writes Nature World News. But, a study conducted in 2006 revealed that the flies did not find prey by chance - indicating the presence of a hyper-evolved mechanism that allows the fly to tell differences in sound mere milliseconds apart. In a study funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), researchers believe they have reproduced that mechanism on a slightly larger scale - creating a device that can amplify a four-millionths of a second time delay and allow for acute source detection, writes Nature World News. Study author Neil Hall explained in a recent statement that the device may one day be beneficial for hearing aid users, who often have a hard time discerning between primary and background noises.