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October 19th, 2017

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What Researchers Do

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published Feb. 25, 2015

What Researchers Do

The natural enemy of the "hawkmoth" (for 65 million years) is the bat, but thanks to a recent study by biologists at Boise State University and the University of Florida, we know the reason why so many hawkmoths are able to avoid their predator: They signal each other by rubbing their genitals on their abdomens, which somehow mimics bats' own high-frequency sounds, thus jamming the bats' aural ability to detect the hawkmoths' locations. Professors Jesse Barber and Akito Kawahara, working in Malaysia, tethered a hawkmoth to a wire and then tracked a bat, using slow-motion cameras and high-definition microphones, painstakingly examining the results for a 2014 journal article. [Daily Mail (London), 12-11-2014]

Bringing the Total Number of Cow Sounds to Three: A team from Britain's University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University of London found (according to a December BBC News report) that cows make two "distinctly different" call sounds to their calves, depending on whether the calves are nearby (low-frequency mooing, with mouth closed) or separated (higher frequency). The team said it spent 10 months digitally recording cow noises, then a year analyzing them by computer. [BBC News, 12-16-2014]

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