New book uncovers secret abilities of animals

August 16th, 2009 - 3:47 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug 16 (ANI): Elephant hear using their feet, bats attract females by singing high-pitch songs, and mole rats use a form of Morse code to communicate-these are just few of the secret abilities some animals possess, revealed a new book.

With the aid of modern technology and techniques, scientists are starting to uncover a multitude of secret abilities that animals have evolved to help them survive. And the findings are causing biologists look at animals in new ways, and are suggesting that many species are more complex than was first thought.

Dr. Karen Shanor, a neurophyschologist at Georgetown University, and her colleague Jagmeet Kanwal, a neuroethologist who studies bat behaviour, have compiled evidence from around the world to show just how extraordinary many animals are.

“As a species, and certainly as scientists, we have underestimated animals for a long time,” the Telegraph quoted Shanor as saying.

“Many animals have astonishing abilities that are only starting to become clear as we use new technology and knowledge to study them. I am constantly amazed by the abilities of even insignificant looking insects,” she added.

The book, titled ‘Bats Sing, Mice Giggle’, has unravelled among other things that elephants are capable of detecting seismic vibrations through the bones in their feet and nerves in their trunks.

By producing low frequency rumbles in their calls, elephants can communicate through the ground over hundreds of miles.

The researchers have also found that certain bats produce songs as well as the chirps they use for echolocation and hunting.

The false vampire bat, or Megaderma lyra, uses distinctive social calls that sound like songs when recorded and played back at a slower speed, to attract female mates while the sac-winged bat, Saccopteryx bilineata, uses songs to mark out its territory.

Scientists have discovered that blind Mole rats (Spalax ehrenbergi) have developed a morse code to communicate using “head-drumming”.

The rodents bang their heads against the walls of their underground passageways, sending out vibrations, which travel up to 50 feet away. Other mole rats hold their jaws against the tunnel wall to detect the messages, which include information about territories and even courting.

Dwarf spider (Erigone atra) have the ability to “paraglide” by casting strands of silk into the air. The silk parachute is caught by turbulence in the air, propelling the creatures over long distances.

Cockroaches (Blattaria) can survive for a month without food and for a week without water. They can tolerate up to 15 times more radiation than humans, can survive for up to two weeks without a head.

Elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) use their electric signals to jam the signals given off by rivals.

Male elephantnose fish deliberately change the frequency of the electrical pulses they produce to interfere with those produced by rivals, in an attempt to drown them out. This is often done when competing for a mate or to stop a rival attracting prey.

New Caledonian Crows (Corvus moneduloides) have been found to make and use tools-an ability previously thought to be restricted to humans and apes. (ANI)

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