An Ojibwa legend tells the story of how a little squirrel turned into a bat. One day long ago -- as all legends begin -- the rising sun got caught in the trees. Initially, the animals assumed it was still night, until enough time passed that they knew something was up.
While all the other animals looked for the sun on the ground and in caves, a small squirrel decided to climb and search the trees. Eventually, the little squirrel found the sun, who asked the animal to help free it from the branches. The squirrel obliged, but as the sun became less tangled, it grew brighter and hotter. By helping the sun, the squirrel's tail burned away, its skin became stretched and charred, and it went blind.
Feeling sorry for the squirrel who rescued it from the trees, the sun offered the squirrel a reward. The squirrel had only one dream: to fly. But given its condition, that dream seemed impossible. The sun promised that the squirrel would be a better flier than all the birds, and it would "see" at night. And so the little squirrel fluttered its wings and became the first bat.
Bats did originally evolve from small, flightless mammals tens of millions of years ago. First, they evolved as gliders, chasing down their insect prey, who the bats eventually followed into the air. After bats evolved flight, they later developed echolocation to maneuver at night, as bats were driven to be noctural to avoid predation by avian birds, according to research published in 2008.