Species of bat with the ability to echolocate do not all group together in the evolutionary tree of life - some are more related to their non-echolocating cousins, the fruit bats. This has raised the question of whether echolocation in bats has evolved more than once, or whether the fruit bats somehow lost their ability to echolocate.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Stephen Rossiter from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, along with Professor Gareth Jones from the University of Bristol and Professor Shuyi Zhang and Dr Li Gang from East China Normal University in Shanghai, studied a gene called Prestin that codes for a protein of the outer hair cells - the tiny structures in the inner ear that help to give mammals their sensitive hearing (Prestin is linked to deafness in humans).
They looked at the Prestin DNA sequence in a range of echolocating bats and fruit bats and found that parts of the gene appear to have evolved to be similar in the distantly related echolocating species. But they couldn't find any evidence of genetic changes in the fruit bat Prestin that might be expected from a loss of high frequency hearing.
Dr Rossiter explains: "If Prestin does indeed help bats to hear their high-pitched echoes, then these results appear to support the idea that echolocation has evolved more than once in bats. This apparent independent evolution of a trait in distant relatives is known as convergence, a term that is more commonly used to describe the physical features of species that live in similar habitats and face similar selection pressures, such as the spines of hedgehogs and porcupines."
Examples of convergence at a molecular level are very rare. Based on their results, Dr Rossiter and his colleagues warn of the potential problems of inferring true evolutionary relationships from genes that may be involved in important functions and, therefore, could be shaped by convergent evolution.
Dr Rossiter added: "If hearing were an Olympic event, echolocating bats would be strong medal contenders. Their ears are tuned to higher sound frequencies than those of any other mammals because they need to listen to the returning echoes of their ultra-sonic squeaks."
Sian Halkyard | EurekAlert!
Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences