Who is Karl von Frisch?June 25, 2021
Karl von Frisch was an Austrian-born ethologist who lived from 20 November 1886 to 12 June 1982.
He is especially known for his studies on bee behavior and senses. He revealed the sensitivity of bees to ultraviolet and polarized light, and also deciphered how honey bees communicate information to each other in the hive using a distinctive “dance”. He was awarded the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with his colleagues Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen.
Known for his studies on bee behavior and senses, Fricsh revealed the sensitivity of bees to ultraviolet and polarized light, and also figured out how honey bees transmit information to each other in the hive using a unique “dance”.
Applying the conditioning method developed by Pavlov to ethology, von Frisch determined the acuity of their senses by examining the responses of insects and fish to various stimuli presented with a reward and their behavior in their natural environment. Thus, he revealed the ability of fish to hear and see in color, and the ability of insects to perceive polarized light.
Frisch, whose most important work in ethology was on the sensory physiology of aunts, showed in 1945 that aunts of workers had symbolic communication among themselves regarding food sources. Finding out that a balance who finds a certain food source around the hive transmits this information to the other bees in the hive with a special “language” he calls the “dance of the field”, Frisch succeeded in deciphering the dance language as a result of years of meticulous work. Returning from the food source, the bee conveyed the necessary information by drawing an “8” shape on the vertical surface of the hive, consisting of two rings joined by a dance called “straight flight”. The angle made by straight flight with a strictly vertical line showed what angle to travel with respect to the Sun after exiting the hive, while the dance time required to complete the “8” gave information about how far away the food source was. Frisch later found that there could be a link between dance and the richness of the food source, and that the bee, which provides information by dancing, even takes into account the wind it encounters as it flies from the source to the hive.
Dance language, which is the most complex communication system known in invertebrates, revealed by Frisch, is important in terms of shedding light on communication between animals and showing that even a simple nervous system allows for a highly developed perception and communication mechanism.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook