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  • Dallas Educational Article of the Month - Are bats really blind?

Are bats really blind?

Are bats really blind?

We have all heard the saying “blind as a bat”, but are bats REALLY blind? NO! Although Dallas bats, like most creatures, are born blind, by day nine of their life their vision is excellent. The surprising truth is that most bats have eyesight as good better than that of most humans. But, unlike cats, opossums, owls or other night hunting creatures, they do not have excellent night vision. Since they are nocturnal or night dwellers, by nature, the use a “second sight” or built in sonar, to help them see in the dark. This second sight is called Echolocation. This method of “seeing in the dark” involves the use of clicks and other sounds the Texas bat makes to ping off objects much like Sonar.

The 1200 varieties of bats in the world all come from two major groups of bats that scientists believe evolved from a common ancestor The first group, called Megachiroptera, or Large fruit bat, consists of medium to large sized bats who exist , as their name suggests, on mainly fruits. These bats have prominent vision centers in their brains and huge bulging eyes. As they hunt, they use senses of both vision and smell to find their food. A Flying Fox, for example, not only has excellent daylight vision, but can actually see in color. This ability helps him differentiate the fruit from the leaves. These bats rely heavily on their daylight vision and are unable to fly on moonless nights.

The second group, Microchiroptera meaning small bats comprises about 70% of all bats in the world. They survive by eating lots of Texas insects. Their eyes are less developed that that of their larger cousins, but they can still see in the daylight. They use their eyesight to tell the difference in daylight and dark, and also to navigate over long distances when their natural sonar is useless. Like humans, bats are warm blooded creatures, and like all mammals the layout of the brain is primarily the same. Both speech and vision centers are located in the same area of the brain, and operate much the same way in Dallas bats as in humans. In the retinas of all mammals there are two types of photoreceptor cells. The eye consists of the rods, That allow you to see in dim light or at night and the cones, which recognize color and see in the daylight, The nocturnal bat was were believed to have only rods in its eyes . However recent research has proven that although they have poorly developed eyes, they can still see during daylight hours. So now you know; while they rely on their superior hearing and gift of echolocation to help them survive, Dallas bats can see just fine! .

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