The ontogeny of a mammalian cognitive map in the real world

Lee Harten, Amitay Katz, Aya Goldshtein, Michal Handel, Yossi Yovel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How animals navigate over large-scale environments remains a riddle. Specifically, it is debated whether animals have cognitive maps. The hallmark of map-based navigation is the ability to perform shortcuts, i.e., to move in direct but novel routes. When tracking an animal in the wild, it is extremely difficult to determine whether a movement is truly novel because the animal's past movement is unknown. We overcame this difficulty by continuously tracking wild fruit bat pups from their very first flight outdoors and over the first months of their lives. Bats performed truly original shortcuts, supporting the hypothesis that they can perform large-scale map-based navigation. We documented how young pups developed their visual-based map, exemplifying the importance of exploration and demonstrating interindividual differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-197
Number of pages4
Issue number6500
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2020


FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme679186
European Research Council


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