Humans may be king of the animal world when it comes to evolution, but we are flailing down the hearing ranks. Although our hearing isn’t as sensitive as some of these guys below (ours is a limited 2 to 5 kiloherz) — the way our brain processes vibrations into sound that then does amazing things to our memory and processing banks, evoking emotions is nothing less than magical. But, how does it all work? For more information on how humans hear, check out www.hiddenhearing.co.uk. However, let’s not take away the glory from these hearing heavyweights, here’s the top 10 animals with amazing hearing:
1. The greater wax moth
Photo: Andy Reago & Chrissy Mclarren / Flickr / CC BY 2.0This little guy has the hearing crown, with a hearing frequency of up to 300 kiloherz, it can hear 150 times more than us and can even hear 100 herz above a bat (but as the bat is its number one predator it’s going to need to outwit it somehow). Dr. Hannah Moir, told The Daily Mail: “Many species of moth have evolved ultrasound-sensitive ears owing to the predation pressure of echo-locating bats — this system is one of the best known examples of an evolutionary ‘arms-race’ between predator and prey.”
Photo: Brian Snelson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0It’s no surprise really, with ears that big, that the elephant is going to be in the top 10! Their hearing frequency is somewhere in between 16 herz to 12 kiloherz which is a huge range and they can hear at a frequency 20 times lower than us.
Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Services Headquarters / Flickr / CC BY 2.0Bats come second only to the moth. They use a biological sonar system called echolocation to find their way around in the pitch black. Their frequency level is around 212 kiloherz .
Photo: Szlivka Róbert / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0A dog’s hearing is similar to a cat, they hear better at a higher pitch and can even differentiate between their owner’s footsteps and strangers. People have reported that their dogs know they are coming home before they even get there!
Photo: Mark A Coleman / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0An owl’s frequency range is between 200 herz to 12 kiloherz , and with their excellent eyesight and a head that can nearly turn 360 degrees you really don’t want to be its potential prey!
Photo: Jean-Jacques Boujot / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0Our friendly rodent has a better hearing range than the cat, which is just as well for them. At 200 herz to 76 kiloherz they can hear an incy-wincy spider coming down the drain pipe.
Photo: Moyan Brenn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0Horses need to have a good hearing as well as they actually have many predators in the wild — they are a flight animal and rely heavily on their hearing, which is much better than their sight. Their frequency range is 55 herz to 33 kiloherz. They can move their ears in the direction of the sound.
Photo: Ingrid Taylar/ Flickr / CC BY 2.0Pigeons have an incredibly low hearing frequency, something like 0.5 herz! This helps them to hear sound over long distance and to detect storms and helps them to navigate over long distances. According to OneKind they are only one of four animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror which was worth a mention in itself!
So there you have it, ten animals with great hearing ranging from some of the smallest to the largest and there’s even a mix of domestic and wild! Some of these animals have some seriously good hearing to help them out when living in the wild, which they use to help them hunt or help them to avoid danger — others allow them to help out humans such as dog’s who are now used by forces such as the police and armed forces for their heightened senses!
By Bethany Taylor
Bethany Taylor is a Freelance Guestblogger at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Frontier has over 300 dedicated conservation and community development projects as well as plenty of inspiring gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information on all the opportunities available please visit www.frontier.ac.uk. Check out Frontier’s blog “Into the Wild” where you can read more articles like this! Happy reading!