If bats ever used a cell phone, they could forgo caller ID: The
mammals can identify each other by their voices, a new study says.
Bats aren’t the only mammals to use voice recognition—people do it,
too. Even in the days before caller ID, a simple “Hi, it’s me,” from a
close friend or loved one was usually enough to figure out who’s on the
other end. Recognizing a person by voice, however, requires previous
knowledge: We can’t identify a stranger on the phone by voice alone
because we have never met them before.
People can, however, discriminate between a familiar voice and an
unfamiliar one, even if they’ve never met the other person. We can also
distinguish between two individuals by voice alone even if we’ve never
met them before.
Hanna Kastein and
colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover,
Germany, wanted to know whether bats could perform these same tasks…