CLOSE
Getty Images
Getty Images

Why Don’t Bats Get Disoriented By Each Other's Sonar?

Getty Images
Getty Images

Contrary to popular clichés, bats are hardly blind. Yet, when it comes to getting around and locating food, vision takes a backseat to echolocation. By emitting high frequency sounds and listening to them bounce off various objects with their remarkably sensitive ears, bats are able to construct a mental picture of their environment. Amazing research about how bats locate bodies of water has recently shown that this strategy is, at least partially, instinctive:

However, many species are communally inclined, with as many as several hundred individuals occupying the same cave before taking off in massive swarms. With so many screeching at once, providing what would appear to be near-endless interference, a simple question emerges: Why don’t bats get distracted by each other’s cries?

It would appear that a variety of strategies exist. For instance, the call of the North and South American moustached bat is, according to biologist John D. Altringham, “so weak that other bats are very unlikely to hear it.” Because of the sound’s relative quietness, neighboring moustached bats simply ignore it and go on hunting undistracted by their kin.

Furthermore, Gareth Jones and Marc W. Holderid of the University of Bristol have observed that, in the lion’s share of species, most individuals have different call lengths to help them navigate different environments: When a bat flies in a wide open space, it will often use a lengthy vocalization, which will travel farther. Conversely, should the bat in question fly into a crowded environment, a series of short screeches, which can only bounce back a comparatively short distance, is preferable. Because the latter technique has a smaller range, fewer noises can interfere with the interpretation process—including the sonar of other bats. 

For more info on the subject of bat echolocation and its evolution, check out this story.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Courtesy of The National Aviary
arrow
Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios