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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bats Know One Another's Voice

According to Dr. Yossi Yovel from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, bats can differentiate between one another solely from the sound of their "voice." The phenomenon was described as being able to distinguish a friend's voice from a single yell.

Dr. Yovel and his team pushed several bats through a series of tests in which two bats' "voices" - echolocation calls the rodents use as sonar to guide them - were played and the test subject had to choose the correct one. At first, the bat was rewarded for choosing correctly, but in later tests, the subject was rewarded regardless of the results. Dr. Yovel said the bats were correct 80% of the time in these later tests.

Analysis of the "yells" revealed that each creature is capable of producing a range of frequencies and once bats learn these, they can identify the bat making the noise. Dr. Yovel and his team believe this range is based on the differences in the bats' vocal chords. The findings help shed light on how bats remain in tight formation when flying at high speeds through the dark, and how they avoid interference from one another's echolocation calls.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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