Bats go very well with the adage — All’s fair in love and war—when it comes to hunting their prey.
A new study has found that these flying mammals produce a noise while fighting a battle for their juicy insects. Researchers say the noise “jam” to zero the other bats’ sonar-like echolocation abilities on prey.
Echolocation – a process in sound waves are bounced off objects – is the way that allows bats to navigate in the dark while hunting. Moreover, the process enables these mammals to find and hunt elusive insects zipping through the air in the night.
The scientists carried study on Mexican free-tailed bats in Arizona and New Mexico. Mexican free-tailed bats, also known with the scientific name Tadarida brasiliensis, are medium-sized having large ears, brown fur and a wingspan of about 11 inches (28 cm). This bat species is mainly found in Mexico, western United States, Central America and northern South America.
The researchers also made video and audio recordings of the experiments in order to proper understand how the bats thwarted meal plans of each other.
“The bats jam competitors to prevent them from capturing insects so that the jamming bat has an opportunity to catch the prey. The hunting bat is 86 percent less likely to capture the prey when it is getting jammed,” study leader Aaron Corcoran, a biologist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said.
According to the lead researcher, the jamming call possess a pitch that instantly moves up and down while covering the frequencies used by the bats to locate and catch the insects.
Conner said that the hunting bat simultaneously hears the jamming call produced from its own echolocation that prevents the flying mammal from being able to measure the bug’s position.
“The jamming call is an oscillation in frequency like the vibrato of an opera singer. We, of course, cannot normally hear it because it is too high in frequency. When you lower the frequency into our range, it sounds somewhat like bird song,” Conner said.
The researchers concluded the study saying the bat sounds perform at least three functions, including echolocation, acoustic interference and intraspecies communication.
The study was published in the journal Science.