True Vocal Artists

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Humans – and most mammals – can reach from three to four octaves when singing. Singers Mariah Carey and the late Prince could reach five octaves or more to hit those high notes.

Bats, meanwhile, can go higher, says a new study.

Bats are able to produce ultrasonic chirps to echolocate flying insects in the dark, chirps that can reach up to seven octaves or 120 kilohertz.

Still, because of their unique vocal range, scientists recently found that the flying mammals can produce “death metal growls,” too, when communicating with each other, the Guardian reported.

A research team sought to understand how the animals produce these high-frequency sounds by taking high-speed videos of their vocal cords. But their findings also showed that bats used thick structures in the larynx called ventricular folds to produce very low frequencies, which ranged from one to five kilohertz.

“The only use in humans for these vocal folds is during death metal singing and Tuvan throat singing,” said lead author Coen Elemans. “The oscillations become very irregular, they become very rough, and that’s what you get with death metal grunting.”

Elemans explained that his team has yet to determine why the creepy creatures produce these sounds, but noted that bats made them while expressing annoyance or flying away from the colony.

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