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Sci-Tech

REUTERS
December 2, 2017
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Bats speak with colony acquired accent

You might think all bat squeaks sound the same - but you'd be wrong. New pups have been shown to acquire an accent specific to their colony.

Tel Aviv University researchers tested Egyptian fruit bats who gave birth in three identical acoustically isolated colonies.

Professor Yossi Yovel from the department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University said, "What we did is we followed the pups, their ontogeny, their vocal ontogeny over a full year and we recorded them every few months and we followed their dialects and what we found is that each group developed a dialect that was influenced by what they heard so if we had one dialect that included more hi-pitch vocalizations we found that these pups, the pups that were exposed to this dialect, after a full year, used the dialect that was similar to the one that they heard, with more hi-pitch vocalisations."

Bats abandoned their mother tongue accent for one combined by vocalisations from the entire colony of several hundred roost-mates. It's a skill researchers call 'crowd vocal learning' and until now has only been seen in humans and song birds.

The discovery could provide insights into how humans acquire our own regional dialects.

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