bats hanging from a cave bats hanging from a cave Machines are helping us decode bat language. (Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock)

Apparently, bats argue with each other all the time

Scientists discovered that bats bicker over things like sitting too close and making lame come-ons.

In the past, scientists thought bats made a lot of random noises. But a new study showed that much of this "noise" is actually specific one-on-one conversation about a variety of topics. These surprising animals continue to, you know, surprise us.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel recently fed about 15,000 fruit bats sounds into a machine and matched the audio up with video, using an algorithm originally designed for understanding human voices. The scientists wanted to see if they could link bat talk with bat behavior.

They found something unexpected: bats are quite the conversationalists. The bats bickered over things like food and positions in their sleeping groups. The scientists could tell when bats were arguing about sitting too close together and telling males off for making unwanted advances. Like humans and dolphins, the bats spoke to one another as individuals, using different tones for different bats.

“We have shown that a big bulk of bat vocalizations that previously were thought to all mean the same thing, something like ‘get out of here!’ actually contain a lot of information,” explained neuroecologist Yossi Yovel, the Tel Aviv University "Bat Lab" scientist who led the study.

The scientists want to take their research further and figure out whether bats are born with these language skills or if they learn them from other bats. The researchers are also looking into attaching microphones to bats to see if they communicate the same way in the wild.

Perhaps one day, humans and bats will be giving each other tips on figuring out if mangos are ripe and navigating our love lives.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Animals

Apparently, bats argue with each other all the time
Scientists at Tel Aviv University discovered that bats argue over sitting too close and making lame come-ons.