Bats navigate like humans, using cognitive map, spatial memory: Israeli studies

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JERUSALEM, July 9 (Xinhua) — Israeli researchers have found that bats navigate just like humans, using excellent eyesight, flexible cognitive map and advanced spatial memory, according to reports published on Thursday.

The findings are included in two new studies, conducted by the Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU), which were both published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Bats are considered best navigators, flying dozens of kilometers in just a few hours, and then come back to the starting point.

In the first study, TAU researchers tracked 22 fruit bats from birth to maturity in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

The researchers said that they intended to develop the smallest GPS in the world through studying the bats’ movement.

The results were that fruit bats, just like humans, build a visual cognitive map of the space around them, using conspicuous landmarks.

Thus, the bats came to know the city by looking for large unique structures such as Azrieli Towers, Dizengoff Center and Reading Power Station, in almost the same way as the city’s human inhabitants.

The main proof for this cognitive map, according to the team, was the bats’ ability to create shortcuts in the routes.

In the second study, a joint team of HU and TAU researchers tracked wild Egyptian fruit bats, which set out at night to forage in the northeastern Hula Valley.

It was found that the bats did so using advanced spatial memory and a flexible cognitive mapping of the fruit trees, roosting caves and other goals scattered in their foraging area.

The map allowed the bats to remember and return to favorable destinations, rather than relying on path directions following numerous landmarks, specific cues originating from these goals, or simply finding these targets by chance. Enditem

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