Researchers have found a living creature with more vocal range than Mariah Carey. According to research published in the journal PLOS Biology Tuesday (November 29), it has been found that bats have vocal ranges that rival that of the five-octave singer. In fact, bats’ “voices” have seven octaves (1 to 120 kHz), whereas most humans typically have three.
“Bats can make low-frequency calls, using their so-called ‘false vocal folds’ – like human death metal singers do,” said the bat study’s lead author, Professor Coen Elemans of the University of Southern Denmark. “Well-known examples are Mariah Carey, Axl Rose and Prince. It turns out bats surpass this range by using different structures in their larynx.” Elemans said that these nocturnal animals use high-frequency sounds called echolocation when communicating with each other.
According to the professor, death metal singers use the same technique bats do to create sound. “We identified for the first time what physical structures within the larynx oscillate to make their different vocalizations,” explained Elemans. “For example, bats can make low-frequency calls using their so-called ‘false vocal folds’ — like human death metal singers do.” The study says that bats use the lower register when flying in and out of large swarms.
Co-author and bat expert Lasse Jakobsen added that when a bat is hunting for food, it uses a higher frequency to locate prey. Humans were allegedly once able to hit the higher frequency but lost the ability due to evolution. “A bat can determine the shape, size and texture of echoing objects within milliseconds,” explained Jakobsen.