Bats in Costa Rica have developed a clever trick to communicate with each other: they use rolled-up leaves as natural hearing aids!
The Spix’s disc-winged bat, native to Central and South America, is a small bat species that lives in dark environments. Like other cave-dwelling bats, these little creatures rely heavily on their sense of hearing to communicate and use echolocation to navigate their whereabouts.
Surprisingly, the Spix’s disc-winged bat uses instruments from its natural environment to amplify sound and improve its hearing ability. Recent research has discovered that the bats use rolled up leaves as natural ‘ear trumpets’ to amplify the sound of incoming and outgoing social calls. These tapered, rolled-up leaves work by compressing sound down the tube, amplifying it in the same way an ear trumpet amplifies sound.
The research on this naturally occurring phenomenon revealed that both inquiry and response calls in the echolocation process became up to 10 dB louder when bats use the rolled-up leaves.
These interesting findings mark the first ever observation of an animal using a horn-shaped implement as a tool for sound manipulation, like a natural version of the hearing aid.
Although these acoustic horns are primitive in comparison to the current models and developments of hearing technology, this finding provides further insight into the hidden intelligence and unique communication systems of animals.
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