How bats use echolocation?


Picture of a flying bat.

Bats employ the sense of hearing in quite an extraordinary way.

They are equipped for echolocation.

These animals emit high-frequency sounds and are guided, by listening and responding to rapidly returning echoes as the sounds are reflected by objects.

If you were to release a bat in a completely dark room, it could-fly about without hitting the walls or other objects.

This is because the animals emit sound pulses of high frequency; as the sounds strike obstacles, they listen for the echoes.

Why, they sometimes send out over 200 pulses a second!

By interpreting the messages resulting from these echoes, the creature-charts a safe course.

The bat also uses its astounding guidance system to locate the insects on which it dines.

But just how it tells the difference between echoes reflected by obstacles and those returning from potential meals remains a mystery to humans.

For that matter, certain bats catch their prey right on the obstacle, a leaf.

Another remarkable factor is that the bat does not hear the sounds it emits.

Every time one is sent out, ear-muscle contractions ‘turn off the sound’ so that only the echo is heard.

Furthermore, each bat may possess and follow its own pattern of sound because there is not mass confusion when hundreds of these birds flock together.

It has been said:

"Scientists estimate that, ounce for ounce and watt for watt, the bat’s sonar is a billion times more sensitive and efficient than any radar or sonar device contrived by man.”—James Poling, in Marvels & Mysteries of Our Animal World.