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Bats and Dolphins Followed Similar Genetic Path towards Echolocation

September 11th, 2013 by in Animals with 362 Views

 Who would have thought that bats and dolphins have so much in common? The two different species may have followed similar paths in their evolution that led to the emergence of echolocation. This is exciting news in the scientific community. For two completely different mammals to share the building blocks that led to the evolution of common features is not common.

What is Echolocation?

Echolocation is used as a way for animals to both navigate and either catch prey or avoid predators. By emitting sounds, these animals listen to the echoes that are bounced off of their surroundings. Perceiving the changes in the sound waves that are bounced back to them, bats and dolphins are able to detect their environment. According to recent findings by scientists, the way that both species evolved had a lot of similarities.

Uncovering the Truth

These findings started with research conducted by a team from the Queen Mary University of London. They were able to compare the genetics of over 20 different types of mammals. These mammals included bats, dolphins, dogs, humans, horses, and even mice. During their research, they realized that there was a convergence between bottlenose dolphins and bats and the genes that are linked to hearing. They expected to find some similarities in the genes related to hearing, what they did not expect to find was the similarities in genes linked to vision.

By the time they completed their research, the team had uncovered almost 200 genes where the adaptations that are related to the echolocation overlapped. They had expected to find a dozen or so similarities, not almost 200. Scientists are aware that through the process of natural selection, some gene sequences may follow the same path in different animals. For there to be so much in common between two completely unrelated animals is unheard of.

Similar Process, Different Methods

While bats and dolphins share a lot of the same genetic changes that led to the evolution of echolocation, the way that they use echolocation is not identical. Dolphins have what is called phonic lips that produce clicks. These phonic lips are located inside the head of the dolphin. Bats use their vocal cords in order to create sounds.

The reason that this was an exciting discovery for scientists is that it shows dolphins and bats had to go through the same changes in order to develop the ability to rely on sound instead of their eyes. This leads the scientists to theorize that they may find other cases where convergent adaptations occur between completely different species.

Who would have thought that bats and dolphins could follow the same evolutionary path towards the development of echolocation? Over time, this could lead scientists to find similarities between other species. Knowing how a species acquired the traits that they have is the first step to fully understand how those traits work. The more we know about a species, the easier it will be to find treatments effecting different parts of the body.

More Interesting Reading

If you enjoyed this topic, please feel free to continue reading about this at the following site…

Wired.com – Make Like a Dolphin: Learn Echolocation

Wikipedia – Animal Echolocation

Wikipedia – Human who use Echolocation

  • Jessica

    Very interesting article! I love learning new things about animals.

  • http://www.interesting6.com William Edward

    I had a bat in my house one time. I was scared.

  • MD Golam Rabbani

    I did not think previously that Bats and Dolphins has Similarity. In different process they do the same. Very epic information about animal.

  • Sakil Hossen

    Great study indeed!! I really don’t know about such lessons regarding bats and dolphins similarity. Though I’ve enjoyed studying such informative post.