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Can Bats See in the Dark?



Bats CAN see in the dark.

More Info: Though it is a common myth that bats are blind, they actually possess excellent eyesight.  In fact, most bats can see better in the dark than they can in the daylight.  Bats see in black, white, and shades of gray.

They May Have Fantastic Vision but They Don’t Use It

Bats may possess impeccable eyesight, but they actually use their sense of hearing to navigate and locate food.  Most bats use an auditory sense called echolocation.  The bats emit a high-pitched sound from their nose or mouth.  When the sound wave hits an object it bounces back to the bat, which then interprets the sound to decipher what the object is and its size.  The bats sense is so precise it can decipher an object as thin as human hair.

Discovery of Bat Vision

Harvard University student Donald R Griffin is credited for discovering that bats use sound to navigate and locate food sources.  Griffin along with fellow classmate Robert Galambos ran a variety of experiments on the bats’ brains as well as bats’ hearing to prove that bats navigated in response to echoes. In 1944, Griffin coined the phenomenon, echolocation.

Best known today as the founder of the controversial field of cognitive ethology, the study of animal thinking and consciousness, Griffin’s studies helped to take the mystery and often fear away from bats and gave the world an understanding of their usefulness in nature.



“San Diego Zoo’s Animal Bytes: Bat.” Welcome to the San Diego Zoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <>.

“Donald R Griffin.” Bat Research News. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. < Miller/Griffin.html>

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