Bat-ty GPS

Oh no! Our GPS has gone BATTY!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Carrying a toddler around all day? Who can relate? Egyptian fruit bats!! Mother bats carry their newborns everywhere when looking for food. But eventually, these pups learn to spread their wings and navigate alone. How do they do it? 

Aya Goldshtein and colleagues at Tel Aviv University investigated. 

The researchers studied nearly forty pairs of bat moms and pups in their natural habitat. They used GPS to monitor their flights over more than ten weeks. 

Results? Babies learn their surroundings while piggy-backing around with Mom. Once they’re too big to carry on food runs, the pups are left in trees in the same area. This helps them orient to their surroundings. 

As they mature, the youngsters start to fly from their caves to the drop-off trees — and beyond. All on their own! 

This is the first time scientists have seen bat moms guide navigation learning.

If only teaching MY teenagers to drive had been that easy! Although the sleeping upside part? Not so easy!

Reference: Goldshtein, A., Harten, L., & Yovel, Y. (2021). Mother bats facilitate pup navigation learning. Current biology : CB, S0960-9822(21)01534-7. Advance online publication.