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Babbling in a vocal learning bat resembles human infant babbling


Fernandez, Ahana; Burchardt, Lara; Nagy, Martina; Knörnschild, Mirjam (2021), Babbling in a vocal learning bat resembles human infant babbling, Dryad, Dataset,


Babbling is a production milestone in infant speech development. Evidence for babbling in non-human mammals is scarce, preventing cross-species comparisons. Here, we investigate the conspicuous babbling behavior of Saccopteryx bilineata, a bat capable of vocal production learning. We analyzed babbling of 20 bat pups in the field during their 3-month ontogeny and compared its features to those that characterize babbling in human infants. Our findings demonstrate that babbling in bat pups is characterized by the same eight features as babbling in human infants, including the conspicuous features reduplication and rhythmicity. These unprecedented and striking parallels in vocal ontogeny between two mammalian species offer exciting future possibilities to compare the cognitive and neuromolecular mechanisms and adaptive functions of babbling in bats and humans.

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