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Apparently there're species around as rely heavily on sonar to sense the world around them.

E.g. Bat, Dolphin, Whale ...

The humans, and other terrestrial beings in a lighted world are capable of distinguishing colour in varying degrees of acuity. Is this ability to sense colour in our environment applicable to species (terrestrial, avian, and marine) that rely heavily on sonar?

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Are you asking whether they can see color with their eyes, or whether they can detect the properties of an object that would reflect light in the "red" wavelength with reflected sound waves? – KennyPeanuts Dec 9 '12 at 15:56
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Any animal using sound cannot sense color though sonar directly, though these animals are not entirely blind and can probably see colors in the infrared we can't.

Even on the darkest night there is some light around and all bats use this. Old World fruit bats have colour vision, which is useful to them as they are often quite active in daytime, roosting on trees in exposed positions, rather than tucked away in dark crevices like most microbats, which can see only in black-and-white.

Dolphins have additional senses in addition to seeing they can sense electrical fields. So if an animal has its eyes covered, they will seem to be able to do things you would not expect. Its not the same as seeing the color though.

Such animals using sonar can additionally sense density and hardness as well as other material attributes which would cause the acoustic properties of the material as well as movement.

A hard-bodied insect produces a different quality of echo from one with a soft body, so bats can distinguish between some different groups of insects in this way. They can also determine the size of the object.

What's really interesting is that even human beings can experience this unusual sense. Blind people have learned to echolocate by making clicks with their mouth, and there is a movement to teach this skill.

Anyone can try it. In just an hour or two I was able to tell how close I was to a wall, whether the wall was concrete. I couldn't play video games (2:20 on the link) or see colors though.

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