Good hearing is relative; where one person might have a natural acuteness, another person might have trouble hearing the sound of another's voice. While humans can't hear quite as well as some other creatures, we do boast an impressive range - 20Hz to 20,000Hz. But several animals have evolved to hear much larger ranges than we can. This allows them to hunt effectively, or escape being hunted. Here are some of Earth's best listeners, and why they evolved such amazing hearing in the first place:
While many bats are born blind, they have notoriously good hearing. This is primarily used for echolocation, which helps them identify one another, communicate, and find prey. The sounds they release from their mouths - usually squeaks and screeches - bounce off various surfaces and make their way back to them. Because their hearing is so defined, they can hear the echoes and use them to navigate while flying.
As the most common prey of many bats, moths have developed a keen sense of hearing in their own right. Despite not having ears, they can hear on an ultra-high frequency that allows them to escape before bats can find them. Moths are natural experts at evading predators through hearing and camouflage.
If you've ever failed to hear a dog whistle, you probably know that dogs hear much better than we do. They can hear frequencies beyond the human range and respond to them quite well. They can hear a rabbit rustling in the grass, your approaching footsteps and jingling of your keys, and of course the enthralling sound of food hitting the bowl.
Like dogs, cats were hunters before they were pets. However, cats are a little more in-tune with their ancestors, and their hearing is proof of that. Cats boast a massive range of hearing: between 45Hz to 64,000Hz. They can also swivel their ears far more effectively than dogs, allowing them to hear sounds all around them. This is why, pound for pound, they're widely considered some of the best hunters in the animal kingdom.
Because they are prey animals, horses have evolved a hyper-efficient sense of hearing. Entire herds rely on the lookout horse's sense of hearing to alert them of potential dangers, so horses must be good at locating and identifying sounds from far away. For this reason, they can swivel their ears in multiple directions, and shy away from loud noises.
With the ability to hear infrasound, pigeons can hear sounds far lower than that of a human. This includes earthquakes, volcanoes, and even storms. This ability allows them to seek out safety before natural disasters and heavy rainfall. Their infrasound hearing also makes them great navigators, which is why carrier pigeons are used for their unique homing ability.
If you're curious about how well you can hear, you might benefit from a hearing test. Online options like Signia's hearing test can give you valuable insight on whether or not you need a professional audiogram, or just offer a quick look at your own hearing ability. You might be surprised by what you find.