Humans can hear sounds ranging in frequency up to about 20 kilohertz, while dogs can hear frequencies of about 30 kHz. But the best hearing in the animal kingdom belongs to the greater wax moth, a dull-colored, common variety of moth that is capable of detecting frequencies up to 300 kHz -- despite having ears the size of a pinhead. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, determined in 2013 that this astounding hearing prowess is probably used by the moths to steer clear of bats, their main predators.
Drat, a bat:
- Bats use echolocation to locate prey, such as the wax moth, whose hearing has evolved to the point where it can hear, and evade, a bat attack.
- To test a moth’s hearing, scientists used a laser to measure ear movements in response to each frequency. They also assessed electrical nerve signals sent from a moth’s ears to its brain.
- Bats are the only animals that come close to hearing that well, with a hearing capacity of about 212 kHz.