The auditory region of the skull is crucial for collecting, transmitting and sensing the sound information and consists of three parts: the external ear, the middle ear including the auditory ossicles, and the cochlea of the inner ear. The three bones of the middle ear (hammer, anvil, stapes) are dedicated to the transmission of sound waves from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear and helps in amplifying the energy of airborne sound. We study the morphology and functional properties of the middle and inner-ear to better understand the evolution of vocal communication.
The semicircular duct system is located inside the bony labyrinth of the inner ear and is part of the sensory organ of balance, essential for navigation and spatial awareness in vertebrates. We pioneered a novel non-invasive approach to imaging the fragile membranous structures of the semicircular duct system using X-ray micro tomography and tissue staining with phosphotungstic acid. Our freely available software toolbox (Ariadne) provides comprehensive morphological and functional analysis of any visualised duct system.