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Auditory opportunity and visual constraint enabled the evolution of echolocation in bats

Thiagavel, Jeneni; Cechetto, Clément; Santana, Sharlene E.; Jakobsen, Lasse LU ; Warrant, Eric J. LU and Ratcliffe, John M. (2018) In Nature Communications 9(1).
Abstract

Substantial evidence now supports the hypothesis that the common ancestor of bats was nocturnal and capable of both powered flight and laryngeal echolocation. This scenario entails a parallel sensory and biomechanical transition from a nonvolant, vision-reliant mammal to one capable of sonar and flight. Here we consider anatomical constraints and opportunities that led to a sonar rather than vision-based solution. We show that bats' common ancestor had eyes too small to allow for successful aerial hawking of flying insects at night, but an auditory brain design sufficient to afford echolocation. Further, we find that among extant predatory bats (all of which use laryngeal echolocation), those with putatively less sophisticated biosonar... (More)

Substantial evidence now supports the hypothesis that the common ancestor of bats was nocturnal and capable of both powered flight and laryngeal echolocation. This scenario entails a parallel sensory and biomechanical transition from a nonvolant, vision-reliant mammal to one capable of sonar and flight. Here we consider anatomical constraints and opportunities that led to a sonar rather than vision-based solution. We show that bats' common ancestor had eyes too small to allow for successful aerial hawking of flying insects at night, but an auditory brain design sufficient to afford echolocation. Further, we find that among extant predatory bats (all of which use laryngeal echolocation), those with putatively less sophisticated biosonar have relatively larger eyes than do more sophisticated echolocators. We contend that signs of ancient trade-offs between vision and echolocation persist today, and that non-echolocating, phytophagous pteropodid bats may retain some of the necessary foundations for biosonar.

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author
organization
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Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature Communications
volume
9
issue
1
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85042744177
ISSN
2041-1723
DOI
10.1038/s41467-017-02532-x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4b5d1ec8-bdea-4694-a929-37ca4f4f31e3
date added to LUP
2018-03-15 09:49:14
date last changed
2018-09-02 04:45:36
@article{4b5d1ec8-bdea-4694-a929-37ca4f4f31e3,
  abstract     = {<p>Substantial evidence now supports the hypothesis that the common ancestor of bats was nocturnal and capable of both powered flight and laryngeal echolocation. This scenario entails a parallel sensory and biomechanical transition from a nonvolant, vision-reliant mammal to one capable of sonar and flight. Here we consider anatomical constraints and opportunities that led to a sonar rather than vision-based solution. We show that bats' common ancestor had eyes too small to allow for successful aerial hawking of flying insects at night, but an auditory brain design sufficient to afford echolocation. Further, we find that among extant predatory bats (all of which use laryngeal echolocation), those with putatively less sophisticated biosonar have relatively larger eyes than do more sophisticated echolocators. We contend that signs of ancient trade-offs between vision and echolocation persist today, and that non-echolocating, phytophagous pteropodid bats may retain some of the necessary foundations for biosonar.</p>},
  articleno    = {98},
  author       = {Thiagavel, Jeneni and Cechetto, Clément and Santana, Sharlene E. and Jakobsen, Lasse and Warrant, Eric J. and Ratcliffe, John M.},
  issn         = {2041-1723},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Communications},
  title        = {Auditory opportunity and visual constraint enabled the evolution of echolocation in bats},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02532-x},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2018},
}