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The Most Fascinating Animal Senses In The World

By Ameera Mills. Updated: September 2, 2018
The Most Fascinating Animal Senses In The World

Have you ever stopped to imagine how our 5 senses as humans help us perceive the world? Due to the difference in anatomical structure between animals and humans, our perception of the world differs. We see color differently and many animals, due to evolution, have gained senses which have been specifically adapted to their environments. Animals also tend to rely on some senses more than others. This reliability is often due to the body’s need to protect itself from its environment and any dangers or demands that present themselves.

The animal world is awesome! And for this reason in this AnimalWised article we have decided to discuss some of the most fascinating animal senses in the world.

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Animals with overdeveloped senses

Humans and animals both share the same 5 senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Thanks to these, all of us are able to perceive the world. And to an extent, because of these sense, we can understand what is happening around us. Animals however, unlike humans, have some senses that are more acute than others. Due to evolution, their bodies have developed in such a way that specific senses have been magnified in order to make their living possible.

Below we discuss some fascinating overdeveloped senses of specific animals. In many cases, these senses exceed anything we, as humans, could ever imagine:

Sight

Sight gives us the ability to see. We are able to interpret our surrounding environment with the use of light reflected by visible spectrums. We all know the saying ‘eyes are our windows to the world’, well for some animals, eyes are considered much more than that. For example;

  • Eagles: Have you ever heard of the expression that someone has eagle eye vision, well, this analogy exists for a reason. Due to their coned retinas an deep foveas, eagles are capable of perceiving prey at a distance 4 to 8 times greater than a human being. This allows them to hunt from above and dive into their prey, taking them by surprise. Not only do they have better visual acuity, but eagles can also see color better than humans and have a 340 degree field of vision. In comparison, a human eye only has a 180 degree vision.
  • Cats: Domestic cats have excellent night vision, which is why they prefer to hunt at night. A cat’s eye contains a membrane called tapetum lucidum. This membrane’s job is to reflect even the smallest amount of light received by the eye. It is a retroreflector which boosts light availability to the photoreceptors. Thanks to this reflection, a cat is able to view things clearly in the dark.
  • Flies: The eye of a fly contains 3,000 lenses, which explains their super-developed eyesight. Their eyes are formed by thousands of small panels, capable of perceiving movement up to 200 frames per second. This flicker fusion rate provides them with excellent reflexes, thus allowing them to escape from predators quickly. [1]

Hearing

Thanks to our ears, humans and animals have the capability to perceive sound. This is also known as auditory perception. Several animals are able to hear sound frequencies at a much higher level than humans, these animals include;

  • Dogs: this is the companion animal par excellence, not only for reasons of sympathy and charisma, but also for its senses. A dog is capable of perceiving sounds up to 30 kilometers away, while the average human hearing ability reaches less than 10 kilometers. Thanks to this amazing ability, dogs know when a storm is approaching. Many believe that dogs can be trained to present a warning sign if they believe an earthquake is coming.
  • Tarsius: this little primate has an ear so sharp that it can perceive ultrasound. A humans can hear sounds up to 20,000Hz, the tarsius sound ability reaches up to 90,000 Hz. Very impressive!
  • Owls: owls are nocturnal animals that hunt at night. Because of their highly developed auditory system, they can perceive movements of possible prey in total darkness. Owls complement this impeccable hearing with their binocular 3D vision of about 110 degrees.
  • Moths: Moths have, over centuries, evolved incredibly sensitive hearing in order to survive from its main predator, the bat.

Smell

Noses contain olfactory receptors that allow the nostrils to identify, feel and recognize different smells. You will find that many animals use their amazing sense of smell for protection, communication and more. These animals include;

  • Bombyx mori: Female silkworm moths secrete a smell called bombykol, a pheromone used to attract males. Moths exist to reproduce, therefore, due to evolution and their need to procreate, male moths have a strong pheromone detection system which is prominently driven by its olfactory receptors.
  • Vampire bats: these mammals feed on the blood of their prey. Vampire bats have heat-detecting noses containing sensitive nerves called TRPV1. These highly delicate smell receptors allow them to find their prey in the dark of the night.
  • Rats: Rats use their sense of smell to find food and communicate. A rat’s nose is so powerful that it can detect chemical compounds in food. Many people believe that rats also have scent glands at the bottom of their feet to help them mark their territory and retrace steps.
  • Polar bears: during the eternal winter of the northern hemisphere, any prey is crucial to the survival of the polar bear. One of the tools this animal has is his strong sense of smell. This sense is so acute that it is able to detect the smell of a dam 20 kilometers away. It is a known fact that bears have the best sense of smell. To put this into perspective, a black bear’s sense of smell is 2.100 times stronger than humans!

Taste

A tongue has the ability to taste several different flavors which include; sweet, bitter, salty, sour and savory. Taste is also known as gustatory perception. Our taste buds, with the help of gustatory papillae, is the reason we can taste. There are two specific animals that stand out in this section:

  • Mice: A mouse’s tongue has more taste receptors than the human. Not only can they detect the most common five flavors but they are also capable of tasting others, such as carbon dioxide and calcium.
  • Catfish: A catfish has almost 100,000 taste buds all over its body. Catfish are known to live in extremely muddy waters, and these taste buds therefore allow them to find food when they can’t see clearly.

Touch

Our sense of touch takes advantage of our largest organ, the skin. Thanks to this sense we can perceive; wind, temperature, texture, pain, pressure and more. Our skin contains many receptors that react differently when in contact which a specific stimuli, and this functions similarly with animals:

  • Moles: Moles live underground, and therefore, because they don’t require the ability to see, they are blind. To compensate for this downfall,its primary senses fall specifically on its ability to touch. This animal is a somatosensory species, who use this strong sense to find food.
  • Crocodile: recent studies have discovered that the bumps that cover crocodiles’ bodies are actually present in order to help them. These bumps give them the ability to perceive slight pressure changes and vibrations that occur around them, making them somewhat ubiquitous.
The Most Fascinating Animal Senses In The World - Animals with overdeveloped senses

Animals with special senses

For the sake of their survival and adaptation, many species have developed unusual abilities that would qualify as superpowers for man. Below we have listed these ‘‘super-senses’’ and which animals have them:

Sound

Sound defines a vibration that results in an audible wave of pressure. Human beings have perfected its study through technology, but sonar existed much earlier in nature:

  • Bats: use sonar to locate themselves in space, this is called echolocation. A bat emits a sharp cry at an ultrasonic level, which it then perceives with its super-developed ears, indicating any obstacle that may exist in its path. This indication happens thanks to the vibrations it receives when its scream hits something.
  • Dolphins: also use echolocation. This bio sonar helps them see better underwater and allows dolphins to communicate with each other. Scientists have predicted that this ability is so developed, that dolphins could be considered one of the most intelligent animals on the planet.

Sensitivity to temperature

Some animals have a special sensitivity to temperature. This sensitivity allows them to perceive when another living being is nearby.

  • Snakes: Snakes have pit organs which contain a membrane which allows them to detect any warm blooded organism that are in its vicinity.

Regeneration

Certain members of the animal world are able to regenerate parts of their bodies when they are mutilated. Can you imagine possessing a skill like this?

  • Lizards: Lizards are able to regenerate their tales. It takes a lizard at least 60 days to regenerate its tail.
  • Squids: the species Octopoteuthis delentrin amputates its tentacles when it is under threat by a predator. It either breaks them off while fighting, or spits them off as a way to distract its prey.
  • Sea cucumbers: as a way to flee from predators in extreme situations, a sea cucumber mutilates several of its internal organs, expelling them through the anus in order to fake its demise.

Electric flow

Some animals have the ability to perceive electric fields that surround living beings, and do not doubt for a second that they do not use this to their advantage:

  • Sharks: known to be one of the largest predators on the planet, sharks have something called electroreceptors. Electroception is the ability to detect electric fields or currents. Thanks to a conglomeration of pores called Lorenzini's jelly, a shark is able to feel electric discharges that other living beings give off, a signal that is transmitted through water. Thanks to this, sharks are easily guided towards its prey.
  • Platypus: A platypus, like sharks, also have electroreceptors. This is unlike any other mammal in the world.

Hypersensitive hair

Can you imagine perceiving a wide radius of things through your hair? Some animals can do it!

  • Scorpions: some breeds of scorpions have tiny hairs all over their bodies which they use to perceive air currents produced by other animals, facilitating the way to their prey.
  • Cats: the whiskers of a feline allow them to orientate themselves and detect the shape of space that surrounds them.

Magnetic orientation

A magnetic pole defines each point of extremity of the axis of rotation of the Earth. Through instruments, such as the compass, man can orientate himself with respect to the cardinal points thanks to this magnetism. Did you know that there are animals that do the same but without a compass?

  • Bees: their sense of orientation is impressive. Bees are able to fly long distances in search of pollen, and always return to their hive. For a long time it was a mystery to scientists as to how they did this, but nowadays it is a little clearer. The most accepted theory is that in the abdomen of these insects contain small amounts of magnetic material that is activated by sun, in turn indicating where is north. This is called magnetoreception. [2]

Explosive survival

Some animals have explosive ways to protect themselves. Yes, and by this we mean they literally explode:

  • Malaysia's explosive ants: when it comes to ants, the most important thing is the survival of the colony. That is why these industrious Malaysian creatures hide poison in their bodies which they expel when a predator threatens the welfare of their community. The thing is that, when they expel this posion, the ant must then sacrifice exploding into pieces.
  • Texas Horned Lizard: in extreme situations of danger, this lizard shoots blood from its eyes, in order to disconcert his enemy.
The Most Fascinating Animal Senses In The World - Animals with special senses

If you want to read similar articles to The Most Fascinating Animal Senses In The World, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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3 comments
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Lewis
helpful and interest article about animal senses i din´t know an ant could explode
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Mr. Stubbs
What about animals with echolocation?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Mr. Stubbs,

We mention echolocation in the ‘Animals with special senses’ section. Bats are perhaps the most well-known animal with this sense, but some whales and rodents also have it. Do you have any specific questions regarding this topic?
Rating:
Kate
So interesting

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