If you though you’ve heard just about anything about these friendly night stalkers, then you must know that a team of scientists has discovered that bats wiggle their heads to locate their prey.
Bats are known to use echolocation to identify the position of their prey, and to navigate around obstacles. Although scientists thought that Dracula’s relative had nothing more to hide, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University, have discovered an unusual behavior that helps the bats boost their hunting senses.
Melville J. Wohlgemuth, the lead scientist of the project, said that the discovery was accidental. While studying a pair of big brown bats, the team has observed that during their hunt, some of the bats display the odd behavior of cocking their heads to the side.
Furthermore, the team also determined that this motion is very similar to that of humans, cats, and dogs that want to pinpoint the location of a sound in the environment. Wohlgemuth explained that bats wiggle their heads to boost their echolocation capabilities.
More specifically, when hunting for their prey, bats attempt to synchronize their sonar vocalization features with their ear’s and head’s movement. The team explains that this strange behavior actually enhances their hunting senses, giving the bats a better idea about the location of their prey.
The study was published in the PLOS Biology Journal, and both Wohlgmuth and Cynthia F. Moss, one of the study’s co-authors, stated that this discovery would no doubt share light on how movement can help both humans and animals to understand their environment.
Another explanation for why bats wiggle their heads when searching for their prey is that the synchronicity between the head’s and inner ear’s motion and the sonar vocalization can, in fact, create a sort of high-resolution tracking system.
Using these heightened senses, a bat can pinpoint its prey with mathematical precision, knowing exactly when to take the leap. To observe if indeed this motion helps the bats hunt better, the team of scientists has prepared platforms where they placed bait.
In each hunting scenario, the bats started wiggling their head, and just after a few seconds they knew when and where to strike.
This simple experiment which proved that bats wiggle to identify the location of their prey, shown that other animals, such as cat and dogs, can use it in order to map the environment efficiently.
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