A remarkable new finding about bats could totally change how we understand this commonly misunderstood species.
A remarkable new study has found that caves filled with bats are noisy for a reason: these bats are communicating with each other in a far more complex way than scientists had ever thought possible. Researchers at the Bat Lab for Neuro-Ecology at Tel Aviv University discovered that bats were “vocalizing” a lot more information than scientists expected, and the research team was even able to determine what they were talking about in a lot of cases.
No, the bats probably weren’t discussing the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but they were doing a lot of bickering and squabbling over food, sleep and, of course, mates. While there’s no way to perfectly translate what they’re saying, at least not yet, scientists were able to pick out bits of information from their vocalizations.
For example, scientists can figure out if the bats are arguing over food or mates, and they can recognize individual bats. They can even sometimes guess who the bat is vocalizing to. Researchers made these findings by monitoring Egyptian fruit bats with audio and video recordings over a period of two and a half, and analyzed 15,000 bat vocalizations.
“When you enter a bat cave, you hear a lot of ‘gibberish,’ a cacophony of aggressive bat noise – but is this merely ‘shouting’ or is there information amid the noise?” Prof. Yossi Yovel of the Department of Zoology at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences said in the statement. “Previous research presumed that most bat communication was based on screaming and shouting. We wanted to know how much information was actually conveyed — and we wanted to see if we could, in fact, extract that information.”