Ground-breaking study has revealed how the cavedwelling crooners wow one another with their voices.
Bats sing love songs to each other while flying around in the dark, an Irish academic has revealed.
A groundbreaking study has shown how the cave-dwelling crooners wow one another
with their voices.
Dr Emma Teeling, an associate professor at University College Dublin’s school of biology and environmental science, said the knowledge shed new light on the mammals’ mating rituals.
By following horseshoe bats in Tunisia and Bulgaria, Dr Teeling and her team found their sonar calls were closely connected to their chances of getting lucky.
She said: “There is a lot of information in that sound. There is a lot going on in the dark that we don’t yet understand.”
To compensate for terrible eyesight bats use radar-like squeaks to help navigate and find food while on the prowl at night.
The sound waves that bounce back then point them in the direction of a good meal or the best route home.
But the new findings show grub is not all the winged creatures are hunting for.
Dr Teeling described it as a “paradigm shift” in understanding bats’ lives.
Her paper, published in academic journal PLOS ONE, showed males with higher-pitched calls found more mates – and fathered a higher number of babies.
She said singing also showed whether they were in good shape.
Dr Teeling added: “High frequency calls indicate really good body condition, where the male is strong and healthy. The smaller bats did not have such a high frequency.”
The theory was proved in lab conditions when female bats put in boxes perched closer to the sounds of troubadours with the best pipes. But sadly Casanovas with more sexual partners run the risk of going hungry – as their higher pitch makes it harder to find food.
Dr Teeling said: “Having a higher echolocation call might mean more mates and babies, but its high frequency also makes it more difficult to find food.
“Essentially it is an attractive handicap, a little like a peacock’s tail.”
After discovering the power of batsong her next project was to try and reveal bats’ secret to long-lasting youth.
Dr Teeling explained: “We are looking at the condition of their DNA and mitochondria.
“Somehow bats evolved the ability to deal with the stresses of ageing, and nature has those answers.”