Bats have been badly raped of late, but new research has shown that the expression of baby bat bubbles as evidence of the beautiful factor of “puppies in the sky” is similar to that of human babies. Previous research has already identified that bat mothers actually spoke to their young in a voice-changing style that served as the equivalent of children’s speech.
Now, a new paper, for the first time, has officially analyzed baby bat chatter and confirmed that yes, it is similar to the (basically irrational) rumbling of human children. The study, published in the journal Science, focuses on larger sac-winged bats (Saccopteryx bilineata), taking sound recordings and observational results from populations living in Panama and Costa Rica.
Despite their notoriety in the recent global epidemic, it was relatively easy to identify puppies and parents, bats are quite good at practicing social distance. Adults faced aggression by violating the 5-8 centimeters (2-3 inches) rule. Puppies were only tolerated outside of this threshold which meant they were easy to identify. The researchers were able to collect recordings of babies from birth to weaning using ultrasonic equipment that could make them scream so that the team could unpack what they were tackling back in the lab. In total, they collected recordings from 20 bat dogs throughout the three months of their initial development.
The analysis revealed that there is clear evidence of babbling among sack-wing puppies and that babbling is characterized by traits that are displayed by babbling human babies. “In our study, we identified eight of the same key characteristics for describing chickens in the puppies of the Saccopteryx bilineata,” said Dr. Mirjam Knörnschild, lead co-author of the Behavioral Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.
“The most notable features are repetition and rhythm; the others include an early bubbling start, a non-linear acquisition of the syllable type during bubbling, a mixture of adult-like and exclusively puppy-type syllables, only a subset of adult accents. You may question the academic value of turning a blind eye to a conversation between bats that is sometimes literally meaningless, but as researchers noted in their research paper, drawing parallel images between unrelated species opens the door to future research. It may be that by looking at the neural and adaptive basis of parent-child gobbledygook, we reveal new insights into the evolution of mammals and indeed ourselves.
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