Echolocation Forces Poor Bats to Nosedive Into Metal

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It ain't easy being a bat, what with hanging upside down, and extinction threats. But fascinating research shows they're also helpless against their innate echolocation sense, which makes them attempt to drink from metallic sheets they detect as still water.

The above video from Nature illustrates new findings about the navigational capabilities of the little winged guys. It turns out bats rely enormously on their ability to echolocate, using it to gain a sweeping understanding of their surroundings—not just for hunting bugs.


Researchers discovered this when they experimented with young and captured bats, never before exposed to bodies of water. Despite their nature naïvety, the bats instinctively (and mistakenly) identified smooth metallic sheets as water, and attempted to dive into them for a drink. Textured surfaces, on the other hand, were ignored. This shows that a bat's ability to map out its environment is a built-in feature—not one learned with experience. That's some serious hardware. [PopSci]