Friday, 4 September 2015

First imagery from echolocation reveals new signals for hunting bats

Some elite hunting species can detect prey that is completely motionless

Date: September 1, 2015

Source: eLife

Summary: Scientists developed a new way to produce images from echolocation, uncovering a new set of cues available to bats and a new phenomenon of 'acoustic camouflage' available to prey.

The ability of some bats to spot motionless prey in the dark has baffled experts until now. By creating the first visual images from echolocation, researchers reveal we have been missing how bats sense their world.

Publishing in the journal eLife, scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the University of Bristol suggest that instead of searching for prey directly, bats intimately learn the layout of a home range -- down to the surface of individual leaves and stones. When one of these familiar leaves is covered by an insect, the normal echoes are interrupted and this "acoustic shadow" is a very strong signal to the hunting bat.

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