Quirks & Quarks

Bats Jam Others' Echolocation

Bats competing for food jam each other's sonar....
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Bats competing for food jam each other's sonar.

We know that bats use echolocation to find and identify food - such as moths - in their environment. They emit a call and listen for the echo that comes back from their prey. The frequency of this call increases as they zero in on their prey. But recent recordings of bats echolocating in the southern United States captured an additional sound that coincided with that increase in frequency. It mystified the researchers, including Dr. William E. Conner, an Animal Behaviourist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Now, a new study has identified that sound as a secondary bat jamming the echolocation of the first bat. This enables the secondary bat to confuse the echolocation of the first bat, then move in and steal its prey.

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