Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Luna. Luna Wonders, “what animal can hear the farthest” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Luna!

Have you ever told a goldfish about your day? Complained to a dog about your sibling? Maybe you’ve held a cat on your lap and told them your favorite bedtime story. Many animals are great listeners. But how well do they actually hear?

It may come as no surprise that many animals have a strong sense of hearing. In fact, several can hear a wider range of frequencies than humans can. Cats, for example, hear noises between 45 and 64,000 hertz (Hz). Humans are limited to sounds between 64 and 23,000 Hz. 

How about our canine friends? They also surpass human hearing, with a range of 67-45,000 Hz. Other common pets, like the rabbit, gerbil, guinea pig, and ferret, also have wider ranges of hearing than people. Goldfish, however, have rather limited hearing. They can only sense noises between 20 and 3,000 Hz.

Many other animals can hear an impressive range of sounds. For example, elephants can sense extremely low frequencies, all the way down to 16 Hz. This allows elephants to hear approaching clouds as they rumble through the air. Beluga whales also have quite the range—between 1,000 and 123,000 Hz.

However, none of these animals have the best hearing. That award actually goes to an insect! The moth can hear the widest range of frequencies, going up to 300,000 Hz. Researchers think the moth’s sharp sense of hearing may have evolved to help it escape from its most common predator: the bat.

After all, bats have some of the best ears among mammals. Thanks to echolocation, they’re able to sense sounds between 2,000 and 110,000 Hz. This aids bats in hunting. That’s why the moth’s hearing capacity is so useful to that lucky insect.

The bat’s ears may seem like an obvious giveaway to its impressive hearing. However, animals don’t need bat-like ears to hear. In fact, some don’t have ears at all! Just look at the members of the cephalopod class—including squids and octopuses. They don’t have ears, and for many years, experts didn’t think they had a sense of hearing. Today, though, we know these earless creatures do hear, but at a limited, low range of frequencies.

Of course, not all animals can hear. Just like humans, many animals are born without hearing or lose the ability after illness or injury. If you’ve ever known a dog or cat who was hearing impaired, you know they find other clever ways to communicate, just like people do.

Moths may take the prize, but many members of the animal kingdom possess excellent hearing. For many, this means the difference between finding food and ending up on the dinner menu themselves. The next time you’re in nature, pay attention to the animals around you. Can you tell which ones have wider ranges of hearing based on how they act?

Standards: NGSS.LS1.D, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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