Echolocation of Egyptian fruit bats is used to pinpoint the position of prey after detection by directing calls at the sides of the desired target.

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"New research conducted at the University of Maryland's bat lab shows Egyptian fruit bats find a target by NOT aiming their guiding sonar directly at it. Instead, they alternately point the sound beam to either side of the target. The new findings by researchers from Maryland and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel suggest that this strategy optimizes the bats' ability to pinpoint the location of a target, but also makes it harder for them to detect a target in the first place." (Science Daily 2010)

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"Is centering a stimulus in the field of view an optimal strategy to localize and track it? We demonstrated, through experimental and computational studies, that the answer is no. We trained echolocating Egyptian fruit bats to localize a target in complete darkness, and we measured the directional aim of their sonar clicks. The bats did not center the sonar beam on the target, but instead pointed it off axis, accurately directing the maximum slope ('edge') of the beam onto the target. Information-theoretic calculations showed that using the maximum slope is optimal for localizing the target, at the cost of detection. We propose that the tradeoff between detection (optimized at stimulus peak) and localization (optimized at maximum slope) is fundamental to spatial localization and tracking accomplished through hearing, olfaction, and vision." (Yovel et al. 2010:701)


'Zen' bats hit their target by not aiming at it

Journal article
Optimal Localization by Pointing Off AxisScienceFebruary 17, 2010
Y. Yovel, B. Falk, C. F. Moss, N. Ulanovsky

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Organism
Egyptian Fruit BatRousettus aegyptiacusSpecies


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