New research finds interesting facts about how bats waggle their heads and the rest of their hunting habits.
Just like cute dogs, bats exhibit a cute behavior, spinning their heads when hunting. The research, published in PLOS Biology, a well-known science journal, reveals that bats act like this when targeting their pray.
Bats use echolocation in order to find their way while flying. Echolocation works similar to sonar, their anatomy allowing them to interpret sound waves variants. The size and shape of the disruption gives the mammal a clue on the nature of the object that is standing in their way.
Using high-tech devices for recording and analyzing the little mammals, researcher Melville Wohlgemuth from John Hopkins University and his team found out that bats waggle their heads and the wiggle ears are synchronized with the sonar vocalizations of the animals, helping them catch their prey.
Wohlgemuth says:”I wanted to know when bats were doing this and why. It seemed to occur as bats were targeting prey, and that turns out to be the case.”
The animals were trained to sit on a platform while tracking prey. Then five reflective markers were attached to the bats’ ears and on top of their heads so that the researchers were able to monitor the positions of the head and of the ears while the bats were moving in different directions. It seems that the bats subtly moved their heads and ears when the pray was closer.
The results of the research showed that movement helps enhance the signals used by senses such as sight and hearing not only in the case of bats, but also for other animals, even for humans. The researchers said that the waggle movement helps the hunter appreciate distance and velocity better than when they keep their heads still. Another conclusion is that bats also use active sensing to receive important information.
The study, published on September 8th, focuses on the control bats have over sonar sounds and how reception improves the precision of localization. Beside contributing to the understanding of neuroscience, the results of the research could be useful in the process of developing robots that mirror the sensory system.
Image source Flickr