University of Bristol - Whisper in my ear

August 26, 2010

Scientists have discovered that a species of bat "whispers" its ultrasonic call so that its prey - in particular, moths - cannot hear it coming. The researchers from the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences found that the barbastelle bat uses the hunting strategy to combat the ability of some moths to hear a bat's call. By recording nerve activity in a moth's ear while tracking nearby bats, the scientists showed the barbastelle could get as close as 3.5 metres without being detected, when other bats are heard from a distance of 30 metres. The downside is that the bat's "whispers" mean they find fewer moths - "similar to us trying to navigate in the dark using a lighter instead of a spotlight", said researcher Holger Goerlitz.

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