Bats also use a visual system in addition to echolocation

A study published in Science Advances focused on the particular visual system of bats, notoriously one of the most active and most skilled animals at exploiting the darkness. These animals, in fact, know how to exploit their very sensitive hearing to hunt prey but also for other basic operations such as mating.

A study, produced by researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, reveals that bats integrate their echolocation system with the visual system provided naturally by their eyes to maximize the profitability of their movements during the night, in environments often very dark such as those of the caves. Yossi Yovel and Sasha Danilovich analyzed different aspects of this visual system, particularly in fruit bats, a species of bat belonging to the Pteropodid family.

These animals are able to transform an echo into a visual image thanks to which they can find the way out even from a completely dark labyrinth, being able to determine the shapes and structures of objects with a high level of precision. This means that they use, perhaps at a level never deduced before, massively even their eyes, notoriously scarce in terms of visual power.

During the experiments, they trained various bats and landed them on one of two objects hidden in complete darkness. They also trained them to understand the differences between a smooth and a perforated object. When they switched on the lights, the researchers discovered that bats used the visual system to manipulate the data provided by the auditory system to find the way out or to learn the shape of an object, which they were unable to do in total darkness.