'Bag of Chips' Effect: Bats Eavesdrop on Other Bats to Find Food
The calls of other bats tell them there's food nearby, much like opening a bag of chips in a movie theater draws the interest of one's seatmates.
When I hear my husband rummaging in the pantry, I often walk over to see if he's found anything good. It turns out bats do something similar by using sound to direct them to the best places to find food.
Like all bats, the greater mouse-tailed bat (Rhinopoma microphyllum) uses echolocation—a type of built-in sonar—to navigate and find prey. When it comes close to an insect, the bat sends out calls that bounce off its prey, helping the predator zero in. But something else happens when these calls go out, a new study says: They serve as a general signal telling other bats there's a meal nearby. (See "Bats Make Calls to Jam Rivals' Sonar—First Time Ever Found.")