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Nov 07, 2014 11:49 AM EST

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats Discovered to Jam One Another's Sonar Signals in Pursuit of Prey

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Sometimes the best way to accomplish a goal is to lessen your opponents' effectiveness, which bats do in a way few animals can.

According to BBC News, authors of a study published in the journal Science found that bats "jam" each other's sonar signals to cause them to miss their prey as they close in. The study detailed this type of behavior in a single species, the Mexican free-tailed bat, for the first time.

"This is the first study to show that bats actively jam the echolocation of other bats, and it increases the number of known functions of bat sounds to three: echolocation, communication, and acoustic interference," study lead author Dr. Aaron Corcoran, a professor of biology at Wake Forest University, said in a press release.

Corcoran and is study co-author William Conner, also of Wake Forest University, had to first eliminate the possibility that the sonar jamming was actually a form of communication.

"It isn't known if other bat species - or other echolocating animals like dolphins - are employing the same tactic," Conner said in the release.

For their study, the researchers observed natural bat competitions using highly sensitive cameras and ultrasonic microphones.

"One bat was trying to capture an insect using its echolocation. The second bat was making another sound that looked to me like it might be trying to jam or disrupt the echolocation of the other bat," Corcoran told BBC News. "Most of the time when another bat was making this jamming call, the bat trying to capture the moth would miss."

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