Friday, April 20, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - The Sound Feelers

Have you ever heard thunder rumble so loudly you could actually feel it? If so, you’ve experienced what many creatures use as a means of hearing.

Not all animals and insects have normal ears, or a normal way of listening to the world around them.

Bats, bees and snakes are a few critters that rely of ‘sound-waves’ to hunt, navigate and avoid dangerous situations.


Did you know bees have ears? It’s called the Tympanum (tim-puh-nuh). This small organ has a hole with a thin membrane stretched across it, something like a drum. It’s located in the bee’s tiny abdomen and is considered the bee’s main "ear." As the bee moves its back-end up and down, this organ is able to "hear" vibrations in the air.
The bee’s feet and antennae also work as hearing. They’re so sensitive they can pick up the smallest vibration around them. This bee-vibe helps keep them safe from predators.

Stereo Sound Snake

Even though snakes don’t have outer ears that we can see, they do have fully developed inner ears. It's called the "cochlea" (kok-lee-uh). Bones and muscles in the snake’s lower jaw also connect to the inner ear. And just like the bee, this specially designed "ear" can pick up vibrations from the ground.

However, unlike other animals, the snake can unhinge its jaw one side at a time. This is thought to allow the snake to hear in stereo sound.

Bat Mega-Phone

Bats use ‘Echolocation’ to navigate the night skies. This is a type of sonar. The Leaf-Nosed Bat, as its name suggests, has a leaf-shaped structure in its nose that acts like a mega-phone. When the bat wants to locate something it emits a short "shout" (10-15 per second). It then listens for the echo-info coming back. The echolocation pulse only lasts a few thousandths of a second. However, the bats brain and ears are so highly tuned they can interpret the brief silences in between calls. This allows them to hunt, locate roosting crevices, and avoid bumping into things.

To learn more about the Sound Feelers, visit your local library, a museum, or the internet.  Visit knowonder magazine for more articles and fun stories at;

Wonder Words

~ Membrane - a skin-like structure that lines, connects, or covers a cell or part of the body
~ Cochlea - a Small bone filled with fluid that helps the snake hear by gathering sound.
~ Echolocation - the location of objects by reflected sound.


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