Superhero Senses

The sense organs in animals are more active and sharper than that of humans.

Their survival depends on their ability to detect food and predators and efficiently navigate their surroundings.

Many animals have sensory abilities that humans don’t, such as birds’ sense of a magnetic compass or fish’s sensitivity to electric fields.

Different animals have evolved to excel in specific environments such as deserts, rainforests, deep sea, etc., leading to adaptations that enhance their senses in ways that surpass human capabilities. 



Animals like dogs, bats, and dolphins have ears specially adapted to pick up sounds humans can’t always hear.

  • Dogs’ ears comprise 15 different types of muscles, enabling them to move their ear in all directions. They can hear sounds as high as 40,000 Hz, which is double that of humans.
  • Bats and dolphins use sound in a special way called “echolocation.” They make sounds and then listen for the echoes bouncing back from objects around them. This helps them “see” their surroundings, even in the dark.
  • An elephant’s hearing range is between 1 and 20,000 Hz. The very low-frequency sounds are in the “infrasound” range, which humans cannot hear.



Animals with super senses of sight, like owls, hawks, and snakes, have special eye adaptations that give them incredible visual abilities.

  • Night Vision: Nocturnal animals like owls have large eyes with more rods (light-sensitive cells) than cones (color-sensitive cells), giving them better vision in low light.
  • Sharp Vision: Normal vision for people is 20/20. A hawk’s vision is equivalent to 20/5. This means that the hawk can see from 20 feet what most people can see from 5 feet.
  • Thermal Vision: Snakes and pit vipers have a special sensory “pit organ” between their eyes and nostrils on either side of their heads. This organ detects infrared radiation. Snakes and pit vipers can “see” the infrared radiation as a thermal image to locate warm-blooded prey like rodents in complete darkness. 



Animals with super senses of smell, like dogs, bears, and sharks, have special adaptations in their noses and brains that give them incredible olfactory abilities.

  • Enhanced Nasal Parts:
    • Bears have a fantastic sense of smell because their olfactory bulb, the part of their brain that manages smell, is at least five times larger than in humans
    • Dogs have around 2 billion olfactory receptors, increasing their sense of smell by a factor of 100,000.
  • Scent Trails: Some animals, like ants and bees, leave scent trails to communicate with each other or find their way back to a food source.


Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the superhero senses of animals:

  • Bees have been trained to detect explosives such as landmines and bombs due to their sensitive sense of smell. 
  • A Buzzard’s retina has 1 million photoreceptors per square millimeter and can see small rodents from a height of 15,000 ft.
  • Male silkworms identify their female partners by their smell from several kilometers.
  • The whiskers in a tiger can sense the moving air. Whiskers help the tigers to find prey in the dark by detecting their movement.



Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the superhero senses of animals:

  • What is the special mechanism through which bats and dolphins can use sounds to “see” objects? Echolocation
  • Which animal can hear sounds at 40,000 Hz, which is double that of humans? Dogs
  • What do owls have more of that gives them the ability to see in low light?  Rods (Light-Sensitive Cells)
  • What do snakes and vipers use to detect prey in complete darkness? Infrared Radiation
  • How much larger is a bear’s olfactory bulb than a human’s? Five Times 
  • Which two insects leave a scent trail to communicate and lead to food sources? Ants & Bees
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