Ultrasound Imaging Reveals Accelerated In-utero Development of a Sensory Apparatus in Echolocating Bats

Eran Amichai, Smadar Tal, Arjan Boonman, Yossi Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Organ development, both in-utero and after birth, follows a different path for every organ depending upon how early the newborn will use it. Perception of the environment using echolocation occurs very early in the life of neonatal bats. In nostril-emitting echolocating bats of the families Hipposideridae and Rhinolophidae, the shape and area of the nasal-horseshoe is crucial for echolocation emission. We therefore hypothesized that most of this organ’s ontogeny will be completed in-utero while skull and wings will develop slower and continue their growth after birth. We used intrauterine ultrasonography of pregnant females, and measured newborn Asellia tridens (Hipposideridae) to test our hypothesis at different stages of ontogeny. We found that horseshoe development is completed in-utero and neonates begin emitting precursor echolocation calls already two days after birth. In contrast, skull and forearm only develop to 70% and 40% of adult size (respectively), and continue development after birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5275
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

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