Bickering bats have turned out be an actual thing as a recent research went to show that humans are not the only ones able to communicate.
Communication is one humanity’s most important assets. The ability to talk and transmit ideas is held as one of our most distinctive features.
However, a recent study may show that we are not the only ones capable of doing so. As such, bickering bats may actually be a thing, and not just a cartoon idea.
Research on the matter was undertaken by a team of Tel Aviv University researchers. Yosef Prat and Mor Taub are part of the Bat Lab for Neuro-Ecology. This, in turn, is part of the University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience Zoology Department.
Their study was released online earlier this month. It was released in the Scientific Reports journal.
Research was based on data gathered from an artificial bat cave. Its purpose was to determine the reason behind the increased noise levels usually encountered in a cave.
The lab’s artificial lab is inhabited by 22 Egyptian bats. They were recorded over a 24/7 time span over a nearly three months period of time. Special recording, filming, and tracking devices were used.
Researchers selected about 15,000 sounds, all produced by the said bats. These were chosen as they had a specific, identified “speaker”. Their vocalization context was also known.
An analysis of the sound data led to some surprising results. In revealed the fact that the bats are actually communicating, and not quite pleasantly. The winged mammals have been known to be able to communicate.
However, this study also established what they are most likely transmitting. Telephone application vocal identification technology and algorithms were used in order to do so.
This revealed the quite significant amount of information transmitted by the bickering bats. Because apparently, that is what they are doing. Most of the bat “talk” could be fitted into a social category.
Studies were able to identify the “speaking” bat in about 90 percent of the cases. In 65 percent, they were also able to detect their addressee. The researchers had an 80 percent success rate in identifying either the context, content, or both.
Audio recordings and transmitted messages were then compared to the video data. As such, the bickering bats were determined to be almost “conversing”.
Four most common discussion matters were determined. And they may seem surprisingly human-like. A first such reason is food. The bickering bats were seen to fight over food and who gets to eat it.
Another topic is mating. More exactly, quite an aggressive courting and its rejection outcomes. A third social situation was encountered during rest periods.
Its easiest explanation could be translated as “You woke me up, shame on you!”. The fourth situation is perhaps the most easily understandable. The bickering bats are squabbling just for the sake of it. Though, might be helped along by their crowded living space.
The current research on bickering bats may help reveal a more complex world. Current identification and mapping techniques are an achievement on their own.
But the researchers do point out the bats’ more complex message transmission means. These could carry more subtle nuances and complex messages. Such sophisticated communication may have escaped the scientists’ notice.
There is still much to be learned about the bat colony. The bickering bats are just a small part of the ensemble.
Future studies will set out to determine their social structures. As such, they will be trying to establish a social map. This will include leadership, status, and parenthood structures.
Scientists will also try to determine if the bats have a common language. Or maybe if each species has its own dialect, that may or not be understood by others.
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