What Animals Have The Best Hearing?

This blog post has been reviewed and approved by a hearing care professional.

On average, humans are capable of hearing sounds of 20kHz maximum, but some individuals may be capable of detecting sounds outside of this range under ideal laboratory circumstances. As we age the gradual loss of hearing sensitivity to the higher frequencies is normal. 

But you may be curious, how do we as humans stack up to other animals?

An owl's hearing range of frequencies is similar to a human, but much more acute at certain frequencies. This helps owls hear even the slightest movements. Some species of owls have crooked ears; one placed slightly more forward and one placed higher than the other. The difference in the placement of their ears allows them to pinpoint more precisely where a sound is coming from. This is to help them in locating and capturing their prey. This kind of hearing is more common with the strictly nocturnal species who are awake only during the darkness of night time.

Elephants have brilliant hearing compared to humans, with an average hearing range of 16 – 12,000 Hz. Elephants frequently use infrasonic sounds, which are sounds emitted below the human hearing range and are capable of recognizing calls and voices of particular individuals from 1 to 1.5 km.

In addition to having great hearing range, an elephant’s ears help them keep cool. In the hot climates where they live, the large surface area and thinness of the ears help regulate the mammal’s body temperature, keeping it cooler for longer.

Greater Wax Moths
Researchers have recently discovered that the greater wax moth is capable of hearing sounds of up to 300 kHz. The evolution of the moth's hearing over time may be due to having to evade the threat of their main predator, the bat. Moths have the ability to hear a higher frequency than bats, allowing them to escape from their predator.
Bats are known for their bad eyesight and therefore rely heavily on their hearing. Researchers have found that bats can hear frequencies ranging from 20 to 200 kHz and emit sounds as low as 50 dB and as high as 120 dB. The sound vibrations they emit bounce off any nearby surfaces back to the bat, allowing them to know where the surface is. By using echolocation like this, a bat can squeak while in flight and navigate their way to where they need to go.
Dolphins have exceptional hearing as well as eyesight, with an average hearing range of 20Hz to 150 kHz. Interestingly, they also use echolocation to “hear” where they are going. A dolphin will emit a sound that will bounce off the surfaces and back to the dolphin’s lower jaw. The bounce back of sound vibrations gives a sound map of what might be coming up ahead in the water.
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