It’s hard to describe just how cute a bat’s “head waggle” is. To Melville Wohlgemuth, who has spent countless working hours watching the behavior, it looks kind of like his hard-of-hearing pet pug trying to focus on a noise. The bat cocks its head to the left, perks its large conical ears forward and squeaks, then tilts back toward the right.
You know what – words don’t really do it justice. You should probably just watch:
“It’s really adorable,” Wohlgemuth said. “A lot of people have a negative impression of bats, but they’re great little animals.”
But Wohlgemuth, a behavioral neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, had a suspicion that the waggle was something more. He wanted to know what purpose it served. So he hooked his bats up to a motion capture system and microphone, set up a high-speed camera and tried to figure out what exactly was going on.