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What Bat Quarrels Tell Us About Vocal Learning

KATARINA ZIMMER: ‘New research shows humans aren’t that different from our winged cousins. Scientists can trace the evolutionary histories of bats and humans back to a common ancestor that lived some tens of millions of years ago. And on the surface, those years of evolutionary divergence have separated us from the winged mammals in every way possible. But look on a socio-behavioral level, as some bat researchers are doing, and the two animal groups share much more than meets the eye.

Like humans, bats form huge congregations of up to millions of individuals at a time. On a smaller scale, they form intimate social bonds with one another. And recently, scientists have suggested that bats are capable of vocal learning — the ability to modify vocalizations after hearing sounds. Researchers long considered this skill to be practiced only by humans, songbirds, and cetaceans, but have more recently identified examples of vocal learning in seals, sea lions, elephants—and now, bats’. SOURCE…


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