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Animal Research

Homing in on bats' hearing

Homing in on bats' hearing

Mel Wohlgemuth always thought it was cute the way his pet pug, Willie, tilts his head from side to side. He never imagined the habit would inspire a scientific breakthrough.

Two years ago, Wohlgemuth, a behavioral neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins University, was studying another species altogether — the common big brown bat — when he noticed the winged critters tilting their heads like Willie does. He decided to find out why.

A study he and a research team have just published found that the bats — and probably his dog — aren't cocking their heads just to be charming. They're enhancing their ability to hear and interpret sounds from the world around...