Bats Use Death Metal ‘Growls’ To Make Social Calls

9:14 minutes

a gif of a bat flying and grabbing a piece of food from a stick against a black background
Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) capturing mealworm. Credit: Lasse Jakobsen SDU

What do death metal vocalists and bats have in common? Both use their ventricle folds, or “false vocal cords,” to extend their vocal ranges to hit a lower register.

This gives bats a huge vocal range—seven full octaves. Humans typically tap out at about three to four octaves. Even people with really impressive vocal ranges, like Mariah Carey, just can’t compete with a bat.

Contact grunt call of Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii). First real-time, followed by played back slowed down 50x and 100x.

A study recently published in the academic journal PLOS Biology examines how and why different anatomical structures might help bats achieve such extreme frequency range.

Ira talks with one of the study’s authors, Coen Elemans, a professor in bioacoustics and animal behavior at the University of Southern Denmark based in Odense, Denmark.

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Segment Guests

Coen Elemans

Coen Elemans is a professor in Bioacoustics and Animal behavior at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark.

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