Humans have some well-functioning and complex senses that have evolved over a long period of time. For example, our vision can see all kinds of colors such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, etc., our hearing can feel the most beautiful music, and our sense of smell can help detect dangers such as fire and food spoilage.
The American “Discovery” website recently reported that despite this, the sensory functions of some animals surpass those of humans, and they have incredible perceptual abilities that humans do not have.
Bats and dolphins are natural masters of echolocation.
Echolocation is also known as “biological sonar”: animals make sounds, and the sound waves will bounce back when they encounter any objects along the way. The echoes contain information about previously encountered objects. Animals interpret information in echoes to construct a picture of the external world for various purposes, such as finding prey, avoiding predators and obstacles, and engaging in social interactions.
Animals that use echolocation include bats, dolphins, whales, some shrews, and mice. There are several ways animals echolocate, ranging from throat vibrations to wing flapping. Bats are the best animals at echolocation, using their built-in sonar to track fast-flying prey at night. Although bats’ echolocation range is only about 9 meters, it is very effective in helping them navigate in tight environments. Dolphins have a much greater echolocation range of over 92 meters.
Echolocation is an extremely precise sense that allows animals to identify objects just a few inches in size, and dolphins can even tell whether a ping pong ball or a golf ball is based on density.
Hunting by electric sense
Electrical sense allows some animals to detect electrostatic fields in order to hunt when they cannot rely on vision.
Nerve and muscle activity creates electric fields that allow some animals to locate prey, which is often hidden in caves or in dark, murky water, without being able to rely on vision.
Those who have electric sense are mainly amphibians or aquatic animals, because water conducts electricity more easily than air. Sharks, dolphins, rays, and some bony fish have electric sense. Sharks have many holes on their heads that are lined with cilia, similar to those found in human ears. Once it receives an electrical signal, the cilia activate neurotransmitters in the shark’s brain, telling the shark what’s going on in the surrounding water, a skill that helps the shark hunt in the deep sea.
Although few terrestrial animals possess electric sense, platypuses, cockroaches, and bees are all able to detect electric fields around flowers. Researchers analyzed the platypus’s beak and found that it was dotted with more than 4,000 electrical receptors.
“Infrared thermal imaging” function
Infrared vision is the ability of certain animals to perceive infrared light. Human eyes cannot see infrared light, only cold-blooded animals can see infrared light because warm-blooded animals emit heat, which prevents them from seeing infrared light. Animals with infrared vision include mosquitoes, bedbugs, goldfish, salmon, bullfrogs, and some snakes.
Snakes rely on infrared thermal imaging to hunt. The heat-sensing cells on the snake’s body can accurately detect external heat, and the brain will generate a complete image of the prey based on the distribution of heat. It is precisely because of this system that snakes can accurately determine the location of prey such as mice and hunt unexpectedly in the dark night.
This technology has been widely used in many fields. For example, an infrared thermal imaging camera is used to observe the temperature of various parts of the human body. Once an abnormal temperature of a part is found, it means that there may be a health risk in that part, so earlier intervention can be performed.
Sensing the Earth’s magnetic field
Magnetism is a biological phenomenon in which certain animals are able to detect and utilize the Earth’s magnetic field for positioning, navigation and other purposes. It is like a built-in GPS system.
Animals with magnetic senses include red foxes, cows, deer, butterflies, fruit flies, as well as some birds, lobsters, and sea turtles.
Animals such as red foxes can “see” magnetic fields. In their vision, the magnetic field appears as patches of different shades. They use their magnetic sense to capture prey hidden in the grass; cattle or deer whether eating grass or resting , almost always in the same direction – towards the Earth’s magnetic poles, which helps them become familiar with their surroundings; for monarch butterflies, fruit flies, pigeons, lobsters and sea turtles, magnetic sense helps them during their long migrations navigation.
Scientists from Sweden’s Lund University tested the proteins in zebra finches and found that the bird’s eyes contain a special protein that acts as a magnetoreceptor, allowing zebra finches to “see.” geomagnetic field.
polarized light vision
Polarized light vision enables some animals to detect hidden lights or images, giving them an advantage in tasks such as hunting, locating food sources, navigation, socializing, and detecting camouflage.
Humans need sunglasses to block harsh polarized light, but some animals’ photoreceptor cells have evolved to do this naturally, giving them an additional visual dimension – polarized light vision.
As early as 1949, Austrian zoologist Carl von Frisch discovered that many insects, such as dragonflies, have the ability to detect polarized light that surpasses humans. In addition, animals that can see or detect polarized light include bees, ants, crickets, big-eared bats, and some fish. Among them, cuttlefish have the strongest polarized light vision in the animal kingdom, so although cuttlefish are color blind, they have hunting and survival advantages.