A groundbreaking new discovery by a group of scientists has found that bats are doing something that nobody expected.
Scientists who were examining the behavior of thousands of bats in caves have found something that totally blew them away: the bats appeared to be communicating at a much deeper level than had been expected, and researchers could even sort of translate what they were saying. Scientists at the Bat Lab for Neuro-Ecology at Tel Aviv University determined that these bats were vocalizing a lot more information than had previously been thought.
The scientists found that, interestingly, these bats are often bickering about the basics, like food, sleeping spots and mates. It was difficult to translate exactly what they were saying most of the time, but scientists were often able to decipher bits of information and even sometimes tell who the bats were talking to, according to a statement from the university. Scientists could also pick out individual bats based on their vocalizations.
Researchers analyzed 15,000 bat vocalizations that were recorded on audio and video in a cave housing Egyptian fruit bats. They observed the animals over the course of about two and a half months, and then examined the vocalizations to pick out patterns.
“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.”