Though they evolved separately over millions of years in different worlds of darkness, bats and toothed whales use surprisingly similar acoustic behavior to locate, track, and capture prey using echolocation, the biological equivalent of sonar. Now a team of Danish researchers has shown that the acoustic behavior of these two types of animals while hunting is eerily similar.
Bats and toothed whales had many opportunities to evolve echolocation techniques that differ from each other, since their nearest common ancestor was incapable of echolocation.
On a purely physical basis, you would predict that whales and bats would operate at different [echolocation] rates and frequencies," Madsen says. "But instead, they operate at the same rates and frequencies." The similarities support the idea that the acoustic behavior of bats and whales may be defined by the auditory processing limitations of the mammalian brain.
Storyteller: Peter Teglberg Madsen of Aarhus University, Denmark
Source: Bats, Whales, and Bio-Sonar: New Findings About Whales’ Foraging Behavior Reveal Surprising Evolutionary Convergence
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