Questions for “Here’s what bats ‘see’ when they probe the world with sound”

a bat flying in front of a dark forest background

Most mammals rely on sight to get around. Bats navigate and hunt using sound. They make high pitched calls and their ears detect the echoes. Scientists are now getting a better understanding of what these animals perceive though echolocation.

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To accompany feature “Here’s what bats ‘see’ when they probe the world with sound


Before Reading:

1. What sense do bats use most to navigate and find food?

2. What is echolocation?

During Reading:

1.  How does echolocation work?

2.  Why did scientists long think that a bat couldn’t find an insect sitting motionless on a leaf?

3.  What did Inga Geipel notice about how bats approach leaves? How does this change what the bats hear?

4.  How does Kate Allen train her bats? What is she training them to do?

5.  How is technology important for Allen’s studies?

6.  What ability is Clarice Diebold investigating in bats?

7.  In Diebold’s experiments, when and how do the bats change their behavior?

8.  What physical sense is Brittney Boublil studying in bats?

9.  How do Boublil’s big brown bats catch and eat mealworms?

10. What are two ways that hair removal appears to change the bats’ hunting?

After Reading:

1.  Imagine you got to work in a bat researcher’s lab. Describe an experiment you would do to investigate whether bats use a sense of smell to help them find prey.

2.  Read up on sonar. How, if at all, does it differ from echolocation?

3.  Virtual-reality studies can assess how people see or interact with objects or spaces that aren’t physically present. How are Kate Allen’s studies similar to virtual reality? How do you think such studies help scientists learn about how human brains and animal brains respond to their environments?