General Question

Zone36's avatar

Can we or anything alive see without light?

Asked by Zone36 (416points) August 24th, 2010

Let’s say you’re in a cave a mile into the earth. You have no light source and there are no light sources at all around you.

Would you be able to even see something an inch from your face?
I’m assuming no because you would need at least a tiny bit of light so whatever is reflected into your eyes.

I’m more curious about nocturnal creatures. Putting aside their sonar like abilities; would things like bats, cats or other creatures who’s eyes are designed to be able to take in even the most minute amounts of light be able to see anything at all?

Again my assumption is no, but I’d like a more elaborate answer (especially for the eyes of nocturnal animals).

Are there any creatures that actually live in these types of conditions and don’t have eyes because of them?

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23 Answers

cazzie's avatar

but each creature has adapted and evolved to the surroundings it ‘normally’ dwells in, so if you put us, or another creature whose eyes depend on certain types of light (eyes with cornea and cones and rods of some sort) they will not be able to see. That being said, there are blind people who have taught themselves echo location.

somehow tapping in the otherwise unused areas of the brain to ‘see’ what is around them.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

In complete and utter darkness? No. There are no creatures that can see without at least some light. In order for an image to been seen, light must be sensed by the eye’s retina, which then chemically converts light into electrical impulses, which the brain interprets as images. In the complete absence of light, this cannot happen. Many creatures have incredibly well-developed vision, and can see in extreme low-light conditions, but still, some light is required.

jerv's avatar

Define “see”.

Zone36's avatar

When I mean ‘see,’ I mean you might even see a shadow of your hand or even the slightest contrast of less dark on dark.

Battousai87's avatar

I’m paraphrasing what my brother just told me, he’s a zoologist, and just graduated from school, has a job working with reptiles now. he says that to the best of his knowledge nothing can really “see” in absolute dark. Some animals have adaptations, for example reptiles apparently can somewhat “see” that there is something warm near them, almost like infrared but not a clear picture like with actual infrared. Most things that have developed abilities to survive in absolute darkness don’t use sight they use other senses to move about their environment.

jerv's avatar

@Zone36 So, we are talking strictly the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we humans refer to as “visible light” as opposed to, say thermographic imaging (infrared)?

Zone36's avatar

Well if animals can see higher light in the spectrum, I’ll accept that as sight. But it has to primarily be through their eyes or at least connected to their eyes in some way.

Zyx's avatar

Well define an eye then.

Anyway, this is a bad question. Light is the only thing you can see as that is the definition of seeing. The only things outside that are things like sonar and other senses that don’t use light. If you can “see” anything in the dark, that’s still light.

Light somewhere else in the spectrum is still light too.

Also, we already have six senses since you have to count balance. Spread the word.

LuckyGuy's avatar

So bat sonar is disqualified?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Snakes “see” in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum through the ports that look like nostrils.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Bees and jumping spiders can see in the UV and visible spectrum. If you illuminated a room with light of a wavelength shorter than 380nm, humans would think it was total darkness but the bee would see just fine.

Zone36's avatar

Okay thanks everyone. I now have a general idea of what we and other creatures are capable of.

marinelife's avatar

No, that is why many cave dwelling creatures evolve to be blind.

gondwanalon's avatar

I think that it is astounding that honey bees can build and maintain a and very intricate hive within complete darkness. I guess that they do it by touch, chemical communication and instinct.

CMaz's avatar

If you have some form of bioluminescent.

Qingu's avatar

Seeing without light is a contradiction. “Seeing” is the way our brains organize stimuli from light-waves.

Now, brains can organize other kinds of stimuli. For example, you hear music in response to patterns of sound waves. You feel hot and cold, you smell various chemical patterns. Some animals have extremely developed senses of smell and touch—they have almost as many nerves going to their nose or ears as we have to our eyes—so that they can smell or hear with the same detail that we can see.

The platypus has a bill that can detect electric currents, like a metal detector, and it has a lot of nerves attached to it. So its sense with its bill is almost as detailed as our sense with our eyes.

GeorgeGee's avatar

It depends on what you call “light.” Light that we can SEE is not the only light that can be SEEN. Humans cannot normally see infra-red or ultra violet light. So we can be in what we would call a totally dark environment that is literally bathed in light that is invisible to us. In that “total darkness,” bees, mosquitoes and snakes, among other creatures, can see just fine.

le_inferno's avatar

No, but creatures evolve to get around darkness, as @cazzie pointed out.

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john65pennington's avatar

Here is a true experience example and maybe it will help you to understand why humans need the light, in order to survive: i had taken a water pill and really had to go. i was on my way home from betting on horses. everything was shut down at the race track, except in the lower level. the door was open, but only one light gave me guidance to the mens restroom. i did not expect the mens restroom to be completely, completely dark. i mean it was pitch black. i could not locat a light switch, so i had to recall from memory, what i remembered inside this restroom and its location. i was absolutely blind. i usually carry a Bic lighter, but forgot it that day. i was feeling my way around inside. my eyes were wide open and still complete darkness. while feeling around the walls, i thought i had reached the mens urinals. being so desperate to urinate, i did my business and looked for the flushing handle. it was not there! i then felt my way out of the restroom and continued home. while driving, it occured to me that maybe i did not hit the urinal at all, that maybe i just peed on the floor. yes, humans need the light in order to survive. i swore to never tell a soul, except you guys.

Jabe73's avatar

Without light there is no vision. The best you can do here is amplify what little light that exists to see somewhat. Like a person’s eyes adjusting to the “dark”. Some animals are better at amplifying what little light that exists to see better than others such as snakes, cats and owls. Always some light required or they too would be blind. The only exception would be an animal/bug that can generate its own light source maybe. Marinelife brought up a good point about why certain animals that live in dark areas evolved to be blind. Vision without zero light is impossible.

GeorgeGee's avatar

No @Jabe73, in the absence of visible light there is still infrared from our own bodies that other creatures can see clearly. Their vision works fine in what we perceive as no light.

cocojeans's avatar

i don’t think there are these’s impossble !

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