Study: Romantic bats sing love songs

Aug. 25, 2009 at 9:53 AM
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have decoded love sounds emitted by romantic bats after spending three years listening to thousands of bat recordings.

Researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin focused on sounds emitted by Brazilian free-tailed (also known as Mexican free-tailed) bats. The scientists determined male bats have very distinguishable syllables and phrases that they use as love songs to attract females and, in some cases, to warn other males to stay away.

"The sounds they make are very difficult for the human ear to pick up," said University of Texas researcher Kirsten Bohn, who led the National Institutes of Health-funded study. "They are at a very high frequency range, but our recording equipment could track them very well," she said.

"The sounds are made in a specific, arranged pattern to form a song, and there are actually organized sequences within each phrase. They are made to attract and lure nearby females," said Bohn.

"We compared the recordings made by bats in Austin to those at (Texas A&M University's) Kyle Field, and we discovered they were almost exactly the same -- the bats in both places use the same 'words' in their love phrases."

The study is reported in the online journal PLoS One.

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