Dr. Ancillotto and colleagues have discovered not only a new case of acoustic Batesian mimicry, but also the first documented between mammals and insects. In their work, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, they report a species of bat that mimics the buzzing sound of stinging insects like hornets to deceive owls that might otherwise eat them.
David Pfennig, an evolutionary biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not a part of the study, is intrigued by the possibility of an adaptation that involves species that diverged from their last common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago.
“Mimicry is just such a powerful idea in science and evolutionary biology in particular,” he said. “It shows how you can get remarkable adaptations even among really distantly related groups.”