A team of scientists from the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Portici, Italy, managed to prove it. first case of acoustic mimicry in animals. The study relied on records of mouse-eared bats mimicking the buzz of insects to avoid being devoured by their natural predator, owls.
Published in the journal Current Biology 9 Monday, the object of scientific work is the Batesian imitation, in which a non-venomous animal mimics the characteristics of another similar animal, but more dangerous. The current study stands out because mammal as mimicry, insects as model, and birds as receiver.
How did scientists discover that bats mimic insects to scare away owls?
Professor of Ecology Danilo Russo, one of the study’s authors, explains in a statement that in field research with bats, bats “always buzz like wasps” whenever they are removed from nets or processed. At first, they thought it was a cry for help or a warning to others of their kind.
Years later, researchers decided to investigate their hypotheses about this mysterious sound. At first, they compared the acoustic similarity between the buzz of bats and some social hymenopteran insects that sting, such as bees and wasps. These whistles were then reproduced for 16 captive owls, eight tyto alba and eight crazy strix.
All owls responded similarly to the buzz of insects and bats., moving away from the speakers. “It is somewhat surprising that owls represent evolutionary pressures that have shaped the acoustic behavior of bats in response to unpleasant experiences when biting insects,” summarizes Russo.
ARTICLE Current Biology – DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.03.052.
Source: Tec Mundo
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