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A recent study: bats mimic the sounds of wasps to deter predators |  Sciences

A recent study: bats mimic the sounds of wasps to deter predators | Sciences

revealed recent study It was published in the journal “Current Biology” on the ninth of May that bats resort to a trick to avoid being captured between the claws of owls; It mimics the buzzing sound of angry hornets, scaring off any potential predators.

This is the first known example of a mammal such as a bat that can imitate an insect such as a wasp, in order to fend off predators such as an owl.

and according to to report Published by Live Science, study leader Danilo Russo, professor of ecology at the University of Naples Federico II (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II) in Italy, says, “This is the first case documenting the ability of a mammal to imitation of voices.

Imitation of sounds in the animal kingdom

Animal imitation of other fearsome animals is one of the defensive strategies seen in a variety of creatures such as the “Cinereous mourner”, whose young chicks visually imitate the large, hairy, venomous caterpillars commonly found in the forest. Also, the Milkweed tiger moth imitates the distinctive sounds and ultrasonic waves made by another venomous moth known as the Dogbane tiger moth to fend off hungry bats.

Russo noticed that bats hum like wasps when taken out of captivity (Yurik Alert – Michelina Posido)

However, the recent study notes that “some bat species adopt similar methods to deter predators,” says Miriam Knornschild, an ecologist at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany, who was not involved in the study. “It is quite logical that bats – known for their remarkable vocal abilities and intricate control of their vocalizations – would resort to these vocal methods to deceive predators,” Knornschild adds.

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Rousseau noticed this for the first time after some of these bats fell captive in the net traps that were set up for them. When Rousseau took these bats out of the net to study them, he noticed that they hummed like hornets.

Simulation to avoid predation

At first, Rousseau believed that they imitated wasps to avoid predation. To study this hypothesis, Rousseau and his research team compared the vocalization characteristics of the sizzling bats of the species Myotis myotis with those of several stinging insects, including European wasps and western honeybees.

The team found that all of the bats made a buzzing sound when the researchers were trying to study them, and these sounds were remarkably similar to wasps buzzing.

Barn owl (Tyto alba) Photo courtesy of eurekalert
Owls stay away from the imitation sound as well as the buzz of hornets (Yurik Alert-Maurizio Frescinet)

Knowing that owls are among the predators that threaten bats, the team wondered if the sound that bats imitate is within the audible range that the owl can distinguish. The team noticed that all the owls got away from this sound imitating bats, as well as the hum of wasps, after the team recorded these sounds and played them in front of two different types of owls.

When the team played the normal sound of bats (the non-imitation sound) in front of the owls for comparison, they noticed that the owls approached this sound as if they were searching for potential prey.

In the future, the team hopes to study whether this type of onomatopoeia is found in other species of bats, or in other vertebrates.
Knornschild believes that “there are many species of European bats that make such pulsating sounds, which may be a good candidate for future studies that hope to study the extent of this phenomenon.”

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