Animal echolocation

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Echolocation, also called biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several animals, most notably microchiropteran bats and odontocetes (toothed whales and dolphins), but has also been demonstrated in simpler form in other groups such as shrews, one genus of megachiropteran bats (Rousettus) and two cave dwelling bird groups, the so called cave swiftlets in the genus Aerodramus (formerly Collocalia) and the unrelated Oilbird Steatornis caripensis. The term echolocation was coined by Donald Griffin, whose work with Robert Galambos was the first to conclusively demonstrate its existence in bats in 1938.[1][2]. However, long before that, the Italian 18th century scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani had, by means of a series of elaborate experiments concluded that bats navigated by hearing and not vision[3]. Echolocation in odontocetes was not properly described before two decades later, by Schevill and McBride[4].

Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects in the environment. They use these echoes to locate, range, and identify the objects. Echolocation is used for navigation and for foraging (or hunting) in various environments.

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