Variability in the Pinna Motions of Hipposiderid Bats, Hipposideros Pratti


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Bats are known for their highly capable biosonar systems which make them be able to navigate and forage in dense vegetation. Their biosonar system consists of one emitter (nose or mouth) and two receivers (ears). Some bat species, e.g. in the rhinolophid and hipposiderid families, have complicated pinna motion patterns. It has been shown that these pinna motion patterns fall into two distinct categories: rigid motions and non-rigid motions. In the current work, the pinna of Pratt's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros pratti) was used as a biological model system to understand how a sensor could benefit from variability. Hence, the variability in the rigid pinna motions and in the non-rigid pinna motions has been investigated by tracking a dense set of landmarks on the pinna surface with stereo vision. Axis-angle representations have shown that the rigid pinna motions exhibited a large continuous variation with rotation axes covering 180 degrees in azimuth and elevation. Distributions of clusters of the landmarks on the pinna surface have shown that the non-rigid pinna motions fall into at least two subgroups. Besides, the acoustic impact of the rigid pinna motions have been investigated using a biomimetic pinna. Normalized mutual information between the acoustic inputs with different rotation axes has shown that different rotation axes can provide at least 50% new sensory information. These results demonstrate that the variability in the pinna motions is an interesting concept for sensor, and how the bats approach that needs to be further investigated.



Bat biosonar, pinna motions, dynamic sensing, sensory information encoding