Are Bats Really Blind?

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Introduction

The expression “Blind as a bad” implies that bats have very poor eyesight. However, this is not true as bats have very good sight, almost as good as a human’s. They can navigate effortlessly during the day and avoid obstacles with ease. However, night vision relies on certain cells in the structure of eye called Rods. And these cells are present in very low numbers, hence bats have poor eyesight at night.

To overcome this issue, bats have evolved an efficient technique called echolocation which enables these creatures to “see” at night. This essentially involves creating sounds waves by the bats, which then reflect off various objects or obstacles and returns to the bat’s ears. Using this information, the bats can essentially “see with sound.” Scientists have adapted this feature and created Sonar, which finds applications in submarines and ships.

How it Works: Echolocation

Most species of bats create echolocation sounds with the help of the larynx or voice boxes. Other species use their tongues to produce audible clicks. A few other species produce sound through their nostrils using specialized structures on their nose that effectively function as a megaphone.

Most echolocation sounds which the bats produce are ultrasonic, which means that it is outside the range of human hearing. However, some bats produce sounds which are quite audible to humans, these sound similar to stones or pebbles hitting each other. But some bats can emit sounds that are over 120db. This is not just loud, but extremely damaging to our ears.

Since bats rely on sound to navigate, they have extremely sensitive ears that can identify the slightest change in sound frequency. Moreover, bats have to listen to the emission of their echo and simultaneously not be deafened by their own sound. Therefore, to perform this function, bats have the ability to control their hearing sensitivity. To further aid this process, bats have a variety of ear shapes and sizes that can capture, funnel and amplify sounds which are reflected back from obstacles or prey.

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