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Animal senses, hearing

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Each species has adapted to hear prey. The shape of the ear, the structure of the inner ear has developed to insure the survival of each animal. How they hear is complex and depends on several factors..

The frequency of the sound can be heard by one animal and not the other; i.e.: humans cannot hear a dog whistle. Wind and rain disturb the sound waves making it difficult for herd animals to hear predators.

The main tool for hearing is the ear. They come in all shapes and sizes and unlike humans whose ears are relatively alike the remainder of the animal kingdom has produced many types of ears to meet the needs of each species.

Our closest friends are dogs whose ears vary from breed to breed. Beagles and Basset hound ears are designed to capture scents. They are long and wide. German Shepherd ears are upright to hear sounds in the distance. Fish and aquatic animals have no ears but sensors along their body and birds have ear holes hidden by their feathers. Elephants have huge ears that not only hear but are used to regulate their body temperature. Cats hear better than dogs.

Humans do not have acute hearing unlike birds who can pick up a sound and react with a fraction of a second. Bats and dolphins use echolocation to hear their way through the world. Moths can hear the bat signals and avoid being eaten.

The Milwaukee County Zoo has a vast collection of animals. Milwaukee area residents can see and learn about the various ways animals hear.

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