This is the 60-second science of Scientific American. This is Mark Stratton.
Mark Stratton: The light went out and the children got up. again. Ahana FernandezAt the Natural History Museum in Berlin, pointed her microphone at daytime. She is trying to catch these bat cubs in a completely chattering mode.
[Babbling bat recording]
Now, usually, when we think of baby chattering, we are talking about human newborns. But Fernandez proved something surprising in the forest: Although there is a big evolutionary gap between us and them, these bat babies speak in the same way as many humans.
Ahana Fernandez: “Babbling is a milestone in the development of human infant language. It has universal characteristics, but there is little evidence of babbling in non-human mammals, which makes cross-species comparison difficult. We investigated the juveniles of wild Sacopterax biliniata. The cub’s babbling behavior is a bat that can imitate sounds to compare its characteristics with those of human babies’ babbling.”
Stratton: The research results are published in journals, science. [Ahanna A. Fernandez et al., Babbling in a vocal learning bat resembles human infant babbling]
As we all know, cyst-winged bats are particularly talkative, with 25 different syllable types.
Fernandez has been studying this species for 6 years.In previous work on their language, she and her colleagues noticed that sometimes mothers spoke In a model designed to get a response from their cubs. She calls it “mother tongue”. Basically, a baby language for cubs, guiding them to use adult bat language.
If you have ever been in front of a 4-month-old child, you may have already said or heard someone say baby things. Facts have proved that Mama Bat will do the same.
Fernandez showed that these female capsule-winged bats raised their timbre and slowed down their rhythm so that the cubs could participate.
In the current study, after studying 20 babbles in Costa Rica and Panama, the researchers identified eight phonetic precursors or protophones in the cubs’ babbles. Each of these eight is similar to that of a human baby:
One: Baby bats begin to babble early in their lives.
Two: A series of babblings contains a combination of adult voices, mixed with nonsense.
Three: Babies will learn a set of smaller sounds, which are common to adult bats.
Four: Finally, adult bats Character, Our syllables, emerge from nonsense.
Five: The sound of babies repeating those adult bat words (think human babies say Baba, Quack, Again and again, again and again.
Six: These repeated “syllable sequences” have a rhythm-so the bat babies will squeak with the beat.
Seven: Babies will happily talk to themselves-only one person can talk in bat voice.
Eight: In Panama and Costa Rica, babbling bat babies from different communities, males and females, all babble in the same way.
A long list of details is certain, but, Fernandez said, the fact that they are all there is really interesting, not just for understanding Bat talking.
Fernandez: “Human language is a very complex system that requires different cognitive abilities, such as the ability to imitate sounds. By investigating whether these abilities and the extent to which they have evolved in other species, it helps us better understand the biological basis of human language. In our case, the puppy’s babbling indicates when sound learning has occurred, which allows us to determine the exact time window in the brain as the learning process progresses, allowing us to study the neuromolecular basis of sound mimicry.”
Stratton: Just like in humans, clear communication can make or break the future of bats. The research team found that the first 10 syllables obtained by the cubs appeared in the complex songs used by adult males to control the territory—all of which were to ensure the birth of more babbling babies.
She said this research opens the door to a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between human parents and children.
Fernandez: Although humans and bats are so phylogenetically different, they use surprisingly similar behaviors to achieve the same goal, which is to obtain a large and complex sound repertoire. Both use babbling to control their vocal organs, enabling them to make complex sounds and vocalizations. Studying more different biological species, including vocal learners and non-vocal learners, will help us understand which evolutionary pressures have caused some species to babble but not others. “
Stratton: No matter where we are in other corners, we may still find babies babble-we now know that humans and bat parents have something in common. They must all be loud, gibberish young people-usually in the dead of night.
Thank you for listening to the 60-second science of Scientific American. This is Mark Stratton.