Our sense of hearing is one of the most important skills we use to survive. We use it to avoid danger, express feelings to the ones we love, and communicate with the world around us. Humans can hear on an average range between 20 Hz to 20 kHz, using three muscles to complete the process of hearing. Many animals, however, have exceptionally better hearing than humans, and we’ve listed those that stand out above the rest.
In both the animal and the human kingdoms, moths have recently been labeled as having the best hearing in the world. To evade the threat of predators, scientists believe the moth’s hearing has evolved to extraordinary levels. They can even hear at a higher frequency than bats, ensuring they can escape from danger before an attack comes their way.
Bats have extremely poor eyesight and rely on their superior hearing capabilities to survive. Utilizing an amazing ability known as echolocation, a bat can squeak while in flight, and determine where to fly based on the sound’s rebound on the world around them. When the sound echoes back to their ears, they can determine how far away a surface or object is from them.
Being nocturnal in nature, Owls rely on their incredible sense of sight and hearing to navigate in the dark. Their ears, for most species of owl, are crooked, with one placed slightly more forward while the other is higher up on the scalp. This difference in position allows an owl to pinpoint the exact location a sound is coming from and help in capturing small prey while they hunt in the dark. Survivalist hearing is the reason owls are such successful hunters at night.
Elephants have an impressive hearing range of 16 – 12,000 Hz. They use their ears to not only hear danger and the ambient world around them, but also use them to keep cool. In hot temperatures, elephants use the large surface area of their ears, and the thinness of their skin, to help regulate their body temperatures — keeping them cooler for longer periods of time.
When you come home from work and your dog is wagging its tail because it’s happy to see you, the truth of the matter is that they probably heard you arrive long before seeing you approach. A dog’s ears are highly sensitive and can hear frequencies above and beyond what a human ear can experience. They usually respond more to these higher frequencies than lower tones. Scientists recently used MRI scans to discover that dogs respond more when humans use a friendly and inviting tone when speaking to them rather than lower monotone expressions.
A cat’s hearing is close to “purr”-fect, with an average range between 45Hz – 64,000Hz. While a human’s ear contains three muscles and the three smallest bones in the body, a cat’s ears are controlled by around three dozen muscles per ear, allowing them to rotate their ears 180 degrees. This ability give’s felines full peripheral coverage of the world around them.
The hearing of a horse is essential to the survival of its herd. When horses are lying down in a group, there is always one acting as a lookout to warn the others of any possible danger approaching. The main function of a horse’s hearing is detecting a sound, determining which direction it came from, and identifying whether the sound is a threat to the herd or not. The facial expressions of a horse display their feelings, while their ears are used to determine moods.
Dolphins have exceptional eyesight and hearing, and like bats, rely on echolocation to “hear” where they are going. Emitting a sound or “squeak” to bounce off a surface and back to the dolphin’s lower jaw gives a sound map of the surrounding locations. Details of this sound map that a dolphin distinguishes are quite impressive, and they use it to not only hunt more efficiently, but to also avoid incoming dangers.
Because a rat’s ears are so close together, they are particularly good at pinpointing the exact location a sound is emitting from. Rats maintain impressive above average hearing and don’t suffer from any of the hearing loss apparent in other mammals over the generations. The range of a rat’s hearing falls into the ultrasound category, detecting noises that are too high in frequency for the human ear to detect.
Infrasound is a label given to sounds lower than humans can detect. Pigeons can hear these frequencies despite living in very urban settings where noises are apparent at all hours. The average pigeon can hear sounds as low as 0.5 Hz, and can detect distant storms, earthquakes, and even volcanoes. Because of their extraordinary hearing abilities as well as their ability to detect surroundings, they have been named the best navigators in the world.
These animals all have incredible hearing, but if you are concerned about your own, search for one of our local clinics and make an appointment today.