Bats don’t have to learn the speed of sound – they’re born knowing it

A Kuhl’s pipistrelle in flight

AGAMI Photo Agency / Alamy

Bats are born knowing the speed of sound. This may not be shocking, as they rely on echolocation to find food and avoid crashing into trees in the dark. But unlike birds that learn their songs, or lions that learn to hunt, bats seem to be born knowing how to echolocate.

Bats make high-pitched calls that reflect off distant objects, and then they translate the time until the echo returns into some measure of distance. Depending on air temperature, sound can move faster or slower, and it is a reasonable expectation that bats would accommodate for this.



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