Egyptian fruit bats apparently hit their food targets by deliberately not aiming at them. They point their sonar sound beam to either side of the target instead. “The new findings by researchers from Maryland and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel suggest that this strategy optimizes the bats’ ability to pinpoint the location of a target, but also makes it harder for them to detect a target in the first place. ‘We think that this tradeoff between detecting a object and determining its location is fundamental to any process that involves tracking an object whether done by a bat, a dog or a human, and whether accomplished through hearing, smell or sight,’ said coauthor Cynthia Moss, a University of Maryland professor of psychology, who directs interdisciplinary bat echolocation research in the university’s Auditory Neuroethology Lab, better known as the bat lab. Moss, colleagues Nachum Ulanovsky and Yossi Yovel of the Weizmann Institute, and Ben Falk, a graduate student of Moss’s in Maryland’s Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, published their findings in the journal Science. Ulanovsky, the paper’s corresponding author, was a Maryland postdoctoral student under Moss.”
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