While the way human ears work is fascinating, as we revealed in our previous blog post, Fun Facts About Hearing: Human Edition, animal and insect ears and hearing abilities can be even more impressive. Here are some interesting facts about their hearing:
- Because of bats’ terrible night vision, they’ve gained the ability to navigate using echolocation, which utilizes sound waves and echoes to identify objects in their path. Bats release a series of squeaks and sounds that bounce back to the bat’s ear in order for them to perceive what’s around them in relation to distance or prey. Dolphins also navigate the seas via echolocation.
- Elephants’ large, thin ears don’t just enable them to hear; they also help the pachyderms regulate their internal body temperature.
- The greater wax moth takes the crown for hearing high frequencies — up to 300 kilohertz (kHz). That’s the ability to hear 150 times more than us, and 100 kHz above a bat. Being the main prey for bats, at least these moths have one advantage!
- Cats have 32 muscles in each of their outer ears. For reference, humans have six. Those muscles give them the ability to rotate their ears so they can pinpoint the source of a noise. With hearing up 64 kHz, there’s no use trying to sneak up on your cat.
- Dogs have hearing abilities similar to cats, can hear higher pitches, and can even recognize different sounds. So, even if you’re out of sight and walking into a room, your dog might recognize your footsteps and already know you’re coming.
- Pigeons have the ability to hear frequencies as low as 0.5 hertz (Hz), allowing them to hear sounds that are far away like storms, and also helps them navigate long distances.
- Hearing up to 33 kHz, horses use their ears to communicate their moods — forward indicates alertness, pulled back communicates irritation, and somewhat sideways, relaxed ears show contentment. They have the ability to rotate each ear 180 degrees so they can determine where sounds are coming from in order to flee in case of danger.
- Although their range of hearing isn’t that different from a human’s, an owl has a more acute sense of hearing that allows them to hear even the slightest movement of their prey. They also have asymmetrical ears — one ear is higher than the other (depending on the type of owl), which enables them to hear the same sound at two slightly different intervals.
Keep your ears functioning at their best
Ears are capable of so much more than just hearing. In humans and animals alike, they serve multiple purposes, including helping maintain spatial awareness and balance. It’s never a bad idea to learn more about your hearing and ways to keep it functioning at peak performance. Find a hearing care professional near you to keep up with your hearing health.