If you think you think your hearing is impressive, you should check out the hearing of the rest of the animal kingdom! Humans hearing ranges from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz (or 20,000 hertz), according to studies completed by the National Institute of Health. Remember these numbers when comparing your hearing health to the ranges of animals.
Hearing range of dogs
Does it seem like your dog barks at the slightest sound off in the distance? Even if a dog is barking multiple streets away, your dog might bark in return. That’s because the hearing of a dog is between 40 and 60,000 hertz (remember: humans hear between 20 and 20,000). But what makes dogs’ hearing unique is that they can hear sounds that are as low as -15 decibels loud. The American Kennel Club says that it is this sensitivity to sound that allows dogs to pick up even the quietest noises that humans cannot hear. This sensitivity also gives dogs the ability to hear sounds from a farther distance and at a higher pitch. This is why some dog training techniques utilize high pitch sounds to command certain actions. Humans may not hear the sounds, but dogs sure can!
Hearing range of owls
Think about the times you see an owl. It’s often at night, or at the very least in a very dark place. Now how do you think an owl can find food and thrive in the dark? They certainly cannot see as well, so they rely on their keen sense of hearing. Owls have ear openings called apertures on the sides of their heads, covered by feathers. The Owl Pages notes that what you might think are the ears at the top of owls’ heads are actually simply feathers. The owl pivots their head to pick up on sounds in all directions, which allows them to quickly hearing prey coming then attack.
Hearing range of dolphins
Our next two featured animals utilize a special capability called echolocation. As reported by the Dolphin Communication Project, dolphins’ hearing hits up to 150 kHz. That is incredibly high! They create clicking sounds that bounce off of objects, and the dolphin listens to the high frequency clicking to determine where they are in relation to their surroundings. While we humans can hear some of the lower pitched dolphin sounds, the majority we cannot hear because they are either too high and out of our range, or they are created underwater. Dolphins also whistle in order to communicate with other dolphins, which sound different from their clicking.
Hearing range of bats
Bats are the other animals we often think of when we consider echolocation. Bats click their tongues or release sounds through their nostrils that amplify the noise. Scientific American says the sound is almost like hitting rock against rock. The sound produced is between 50 and 120 decibels, which is fairly loud, but not enough to permanently damage human hearing in short bursts. Bats then listen for the echo or bounce-back of sound to find out where they are in the world.
Every animal hears in a unique way. What gives humans the advantage is that we can work to prevent and treat hearing loss!
By: Diana Michel
Sources: NIH, AKC, Owl Pages, Dolphin Communication Project, Scientific American