Why are bats believed to be blind?

The bats, also known as flying foxes, are creatures of night, just like the owls. They primarily feed on fruits, nectar and insects. The insectivorous species play an important role in the regulation of insects in the planet. It will be astounding to know that a bat can eat nearly thousand insects in one hour. There are many interesting misconceptions about bats, most probably having originated from their nocturnal lifestyle. These include their propensity for sucking blood and the habit of getting tangled in people’s hair etc.

However, the most popular one of all those false assumptions is that the bats are blind. This concept has even contributed the saying “blind as a bat” to English and its versions in other languages. The phrase is used to denote a person with poor eyesight. However, contrary to the popular belief, bats are not blind. There are more than a thousand species of bats, and all of them have fairly good vision although their hearing power outclasses the sight. They are sensitive to the variation in light levels and they use this prospect to determine the time to get active for hunting.
Bats are primarily divided into two categories; Mega bats (megachiroptera) and Micro bats (microchiroptera). The former, lower in number, are larger species in the family and have large eyes. They use eyesight to hunt and navigate without hurdles. However, the micro bates, which constitute for around 70% all bats, have small eyes and rely on the technique called echolocation for hunting and flight without obstacles. Also referred to as second sight and sonar sight of bats, echolocation is like a biological RADAR system. Bats are capable of producing high frequency waves. They emit these signals and listen to the sound waves bounced off any prey or obstacles in their path. This auditory information is then converted into a visual map in their brain, helping them see in dark. The thing that is subject to debate is whether this feature evolved after their ability to fly or not. However, even micro bats use vision to detect the objects outside the range of echolocation. The function only works between ten and twenty meters.
Bats don’t have great ability to distinguish between colors. However, they have much better sight than humans in certain conditions like low light. The most probable reason for the evolution of belief that they are blind must be their pattern of flight in night. Bats move rapidly in the dark, occasionally just grazing against us, which may prompt us to believe they don’t know where they are going.

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