People aren’t the only ones with interesting hearing mechanisms and facts. Check out these random tidbits about animal hearing from the Better Hearing Institute, Teachers Domain, and the University of Washington:
- Snakes do not have ears, but their tongues are sensitive to sound vibrations.
- Owls distinguish sound directions partly by measuring the difference in time it takes the sound to reach each ear. This difference is typically less than 200 millionths of a second!
- Cicadas have hearing organs in their stomachs
- Crickets have hearing organs in their knees; sound waves cause a thin membrane on the cricket’s legs to vibrate
- It is thought that owls can create an image of the world around them based only on sound, much like humans do with their eyes
- Although fish do not have ears, they can hear pressure changes through ridges on their bodies
- Dolphins can hear frequencies up to at least 100,000 Hz. Compare this to a dog’s ability to hear up to 40,000 Hz and a person’s 20,000 Hz
- During World War I, the military kept parrots on France’s Eiffel Tower because their extra-sensitive hearing allowed them to warn of incoming enemy aircraft before any person could hear it
- All mammals have external ears, but many can move them to help pinpoint the direction of sounds. Some animals, like elephants, can even use their ears to stay cool by waving them like fans. And you thought you could twitch your ears!
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You know that extended exposure to loud sounds can cause permanent hearing damage. But do you know how to tell if a situation has escalated to that level? The Better Hearing Institute suggests four signs that should tip you off that your environment is dangerous to your hearing:
- You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area. Any amount of pain is an indicator that the noise level is much too loud. This should be a given, but many people ignore it or brush it off.
- You cannot hear someone who is three feet away from you. If you have to shout over the noise to talk to someone about an arm’s length away, you’re probably in a dangerous hearing situation.
- You have ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears after leaving the area. Symptoms of tinnitus are clear indicators of over-exposure to noise. This is common after walking away from a rock concert or other event, especially if you were standing close to the stage.
- You suddenly have trouble understanding what the people around you are saying after being exposed to loud noises. In these cases, you may be able to hear that the people are talking, but you can’t understand them. Like the other three indicators, this is a serious sign that the noise is too loud.
Remember: It is important to remove yourself from situations that you feel might be dangerous to your hearing. It is impossible to reverse the damage, so wear protection or leave the area if at all possible. Foam ear plugs or special ear muffs are a good option, particularly if you work in a consistently noisy environment. Ask your True Dental Discounts audiologist for more suggestions to keep your hearing healthy and intact.