Wild fruit bats, living in crowded roosts, are exposed to calls from hundreds of fellow bats from birth. Most often these calls are made in response to unsolicited physical contact, and essentially amount to a crabby “move out of my way.” In a study published Wednesday in PLOS Biology, a team of Israeli researchers found that bat pups match their vocalizations to the group sounds they are immersed in, even if this “dialect” differs from that of their mothers. Human babies and toddlers pick up the utterances around them effortlessly. The ability, called vocal learning, is considered critical for our spoken language. But vocal learning has rarely been proven to exist in animals other than humans or songbirds, said Yossi Yovel, a neuroecologist at Tel Aviv University who led the study with graduate students Yosef Prat and Lindsay Azoulay.