A Deubenton’s bat. (K-Kucharska_D-Kucharski/George Corpsegrinder Fisher death metal vocalist for Cannibal Corpse iStock/Getty Images Plus
Bats are a prominent part of modern folklore. We imagine them as the transformed bodies or souls of dead people who are not at peace and who prowl the night sucking the blood of human victims. Besides looking cool and being creatures of the night its now discovered that bats growl like death metal singers to communicate with each other. What exactly they are saying is not known but we can use our imaginations.
When a musician sings in death metal growls they move their false vocal folds so they oscillate with the vocal folds, which makes them “heavy and therefore they vibrate at very low frequencies” explains Jonas Håkansson first author of the study.
Researchers do not yet know the meaning of all their sounds and songs, but they are learning more and more about how all these sounds are made.
Now a new study in the journal PLOS Biology reports that for some sounds, bats use the same technique as human death metal singers and throat singing members of the Tuva people in Siberia and Mongolia. The study comes from a research team at University of Southern Denmark, led by Professor Coen Elemans, Department of Biology. The team has for the first time filmed what goes on in a bat’s larynx when it produces sound.
Five larynxes from Daubenton’s bats were extracted, mounted and filmed while applying air flow to mimic natural breathing. The high-speed videos shows vocal membranes and false vocal folds vibrating at different frequencies.
Growling sounds are often produced when bats fly in or out from a densely packed roost. The researchers do not know for sure, what a growling bat intends to communicate, when it uses its false vocal folds to produce low sounds in the range of 1 to 5 kHz.
Vampire or death metal act, we think bats are pretty metal!