A new study showed that bats like other animals had developed a second sense when they are in a noisy environment. This second sense, echolocation is the way that bats are sensing objects and movement by scanning the place. The bats use high-frequency sounds and evaluate the reflections.
This study can be an important step in understanding the animal’s ways of communication and hunting, to protect them from extinction.
Mike Ryan is the professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas that conducted the study. He compared this second sense of the bats to the way we behave at a loud party. For instance, if we are talking to a person in a noisy room we can turn on our attention to that person and turn off the rest.
“If there’s just one person talking and it’s quiet, all we have to do is listen with our ears,” says Ryan. “But if there are more and more people talking, we have to be looking at them to figure out what each person is saying. So we have to recruit this other sensory channel we have, our eyes, to help us figure out what we’re hearing.”
The bats do the same thing, they avoid the low-frequency sound and use the high-frequency sounds. That is how they hear the frog signals.
The researchers also add that if the predators can shift their sensory mode will behave better in a loud environment. The first studies made on this topic were focused on the way that birds and whales behave in this kind of environment.
The study of bats consisted of using two robot-frogs that emitted both the matting sound and the vocal sac expansion. After using a masking noise, the scientist discovered that the bat attacked the frog that was making the high-frequency sound, the vocal sac expansion. If they removed the noise, the bats behaved as usual and attacked both frogs.
This research showed that animals could adapt to the noisy environment made by humans, by developing new ways of hunting the pray. The discovery sheds some light in how the animals find and hunt their pray when they have a new influence: the noise made by people.
What is your opinion on the second sense of the bats?
Image source: Wikipedia