The Discovery of the Crustacean Organ of Hearing by Andrea Compareti (1746-1801)

Antonio Spiller, Giorgio Zanchin

Abstract


Crustacean statocyst is a peculiar organ, which allows a rudimental hearing along with the perception of movement. Its morphology and position are truly unusual, so that for a long period researchers were unable to agree on the subjects. Earlier investigator (Minasi 1775, Fabricius 1783, Cavolini 1787, Scarpa 1789) paid attention to two small cilinders,protected by a membrane quite similar to the tympanic one,located at the basis of larger antennae.Very different, instead, was the position of Andrea Comparetti, who already in 1789 in his book Observationes anatomicae de aure interna comparata maintained that the organ of hearing is hidden in a crescentshaped cavity, located inside the basis of smaller antennae. Later on , this pioneering discovery was underestimated or forgotten. Only in 1843,Arthur Farre asserted that the organ of hearing is located in correspondence of the basis of the smaller first pair of antennae. Currently, Farre is considered the discoverer of this organ; nobody knows the priority of Comparetti, who described this neurosensorial structure fifty four years in advance. A comprehensive review of the original sources on the topic is illustrated, that clearly identifies the priority of Comparetti.

 

Key words: Crustacean statocyst - Andrea Comparetti - Organ of hearing -Arthur Farre.


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