Bats Change The Shape Of Their Ears Instantly To Hear Better
Nov 16, 2011 12:43
Bats have terrible vision, you should know that already. And since they rely on their hearing more than any other mammal, they can navigate the night sky just by using their ears and the results of their echolocation, a natural sonar system.
What's more amazing to hear is that, in order to hear better, the returning ultrasonic pulses that are sent out, bats can change the structure of their ears in one extreme configuration to another in a tenth of a second.
Discovered by researchers at Virginia Tech who studied and captured the high speed movements of the bats' ears to udnerstand just why the ears were changing shape.
Head researcher Rolf Müller explains:
"Certain bats can deform the shapes of their ears in a way that changes the animal's ultrasonic hearing pattern. Within just one tenth of a second, these bats are able to change their outer ear shapes from one extreme configuration to another. In about 100 milliseconds, this type of bat can alter his ear shape significantly in ways that would suit different acoustic sensing tasks. A human blink of an eye takes two to three times as long. As a result of these shape changes, the shape of the animals' spatial hearing sensitivity also undergoes a qualitative change.
Wired has published a very nice feature on Kip Thorne and the science behind Chris Nolan's Interstellar. Kip Thorne is one of the world's most celebrated theoretical physicists. He and Nolan worked together to ensure depictions of scientific happenings in the film are as accurate as possible. Read more