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Bats use the same throat structures to vocalize as death metal singers , finds new study

'If Mariah Carey would be very good at grunting, she could also extend her vocal range even further,' said Elemans.

Bats use the same throat structures to vocalize as death metal singers , finds new study
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | (L) JoeMcDonald; (R) selimaksan

Are you a metalhead? Then you would be amused to know that some bats use the same vocal techniques as death metal singers to create their unique vocalizations, a new study finds. The study was conducted at the University of Southern Denmark. The researchers were trying to understand the noise-making techniques of Daubenton's bats, a bat species found across Europe and Asia. The study looked into the different structures of the larynx, also called the voice box, which is what bats use for their vocal range. The study was published in the PLOS Biology journal on Tuesday. 


Vocal communication is important for bats as they use it to move in their surroundings and locate their prey. The interesting part is that bats have a seven-octave vocal range for their sound needs, the research mentioned. Bats use very high-pitched sounds to echolocate and use low-pitched growls to communicate with each other, as reported by CNN.

To understand Daubenton's bats' different vocal ranges, the scientists removed the larynxes of five bats who had been euthanized and then applied airflow to create natural breathing. The whole process was filmed. This helped the scientists to check the vocal membranes and ventricular folds which were vibrating at different frequencies. 


According to the researchers, this is “the first direct observations” of the vocal structures in Daubenton's bats. “We identified for the first time what physical structures within the larynx oscillate to make their different vocalizations. For example, bats can make low-frequency calls, using their so-called ‘false vocal folds’ — as human death metal singers do,” said Coen Elemans, a professor of biology at the University of Southern Denmark.

The study has shown that these folds are key for different vocalizations such as"growling" that death metal singers use. These folds are the reason for the bats' low-frequency growls, according to the study. “We venture to speculate that in bats, the ventricular folds have taken on the role of lower frequency vibrations.”


 Elemans added that the social squeaks are a bat’s death metal. Moreover, “It’s a very high-frequency sound for us,” he said. “But for them, it’s extremely low,” according to NewScientist.

However, scientists are trying to still understand what they communicate using these growls. “Some seem aggressive, some may be an expression of annoyance, and some may have a very different function,” said study co-author and University of Southern Denmark biologist Lasse Jakobsen in the news release.

Elemans said that the average human can't compete with a bat but said that exceptional singers still have hope. He gave the example of Mariah Carey who has a five-octave vocal range and can sing extremely high tones, it is known as whistle notes. “If Mariah Carey would be very good at grunting, she could also extend her vocal range even further.”

A professor from the Western University in London told CNN that the study is an interesting step toward understanding vocalization but there are about 1400 bats species so a study on one species is a limited application. 

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