From beluga whales to bats and even to humans, many animals make sounds that bounce back from objects to help with navigation and hunting.
Nature’s own sonar system, echolocation occurs when an animal emits a sound wave that bounces off an object, returning an echo that provides information about the object’s distance and size.
Over a thousand species echolocate, including most bats, all toothed whales, and small mammals. Many are nocturnal, burrowing, and ocean-dwelling animals that rely on echolocation to find food in an environment with little to no light. Animals have several methods for echolocation, from vibrating their throats to flapping their wings.
Nocturnal oilbirds and some swiftlets, some of which hunt in dark cave environments, “produce short clicks with their syrinx, the vocal organ of birds,” Kate Allen, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Studies at John Hopkins University, says by email.
Some people can also echolocate by clicking their tongues, a behavior shared by only a few other animals, including tenrecs, a shrew-like animal from Madagascar, and the Vietnamese pygmy dormouse, which is effectively blind.
- How doe echolocation take place?
- Which of the following does not produce echolocation?
- How do some people echolocate?
- Which of the following does not the the clicking of tongues to echolocate?
- About how many species echolocate?