"Unlike most humans and visually guided animals, bats rely on hearing, rather than vision, to fly and forage in darkness. They perform split-second aerial acrobatics, guided entirely by sound, to catch small insect prey.
What is known is that bats "see" by sending out beams of sound into the environment and listening for the echoes that are returned from objects like bugs and trees. The bat uses these echoes to maneuver past the trees and to catch bugs.
What has not been known, however, is if bats convert what they hear into what they do in the same way that humans convert vision into action. The bat's use of sound to capture insects takes place so quickly, it's not possible to observe its behavior in real time, or with standard equipment.
Now, with a unique combination of high-speed infrared cameras and ultrasonic microphones, University of Maryland professor Cynthia Moss and doctoral student Kaushik Ghose have been able to see how exactly a bat moves in response to sound. They found that there is a strong and predictable connection between where a bat "looks" with its sonar beam - its acoustic gaze -- and how it flies." (...)
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