Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Archaeo-Pedantry No. 53

Several people (none of them archaeologists) have asked me this morning whether I've "heard the news" that the earliest sound has finally been discovered....

....I must admit that this particular piece of news left me rather perplexed (could it be that someone had found a mammoth's mating cry preserved in amber?) – one swift Google-search later, I find  the story is that scientists "have reconstructed the song of a cricket that chirped 165 million years ago" thanks to a well preserved insect which proves Jurassic air was filled with the "unmistakable sound of chirping bush crickets"


Only problem (apart from the fact this clearly has nothing to do with archaeology - unless there really were people alive 165 million years ago) is that, as there weren't any people alive 165 million years ago, there can’t have been any human ears around with which to hear the sound and confirm that “yes it does sound exactly like a modern bush cricket” therefore (to use the classic 'if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest-and-there’s-no-one-around-to-hear-it-does-it-therefore-make-a-sound?' sort of argument) how can anyone say precisely how this fossil cricket sounded (let alone play an audio of the reconstructed sound on the radio) without first reconstructing the audio system of a prehistoric cricket (do they have audio-systems?) or, perhaps, the hearing of the Archaeopteryx birdthingy (which may have preyed on said insect)…….

… brain hurts.

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