When it comes to seeing, hearing and smelling, animals have humans beat. Here are five animals that boast seemingly supernatural senses.
With their characteristically large ears, elephants obviously have a highly developed sense of hearing. This enables them, for example, to hear sound frequencies that are lower than those audible to humans. It is thanks to this ability that elephants are able to predict the arrival of a storm from about 150 miles away (according to this scientific study) since thunderstorms produce a low-frequency sound, which is similar to those used by pachyderms to communicate with each other.
Snakes have sensory dimples on the tops of their heads that are used to detect infrared radiation emitted by warm bodies. Thus, their temperature-sensitive, not light-sensitive system, allows them to have excellent night vision, and to accurately attack prey, even when in complete darkness. These sensory dimples emit an electrical signal to the snake's nerve cells when they reach 28°C, which is equivalent to the temperature produced by a squirrel or mouse located about 3 feet away from the snake.
Dolphins are equipped with a kind of 'radar' which is located in their heads, and which allows them to use echolocation to detect elements in their environment. While this ability is mainly used to communicate with other dolphins and to locate prey, it can also detect pregnancies. Dolphins emit ultrasound waves that are similar to those used by doctors to visualise a baby's development. Thus, dolphins can sense the presence of a foetus in a woman's belly.
Rats have poor vision, which they compensate for with an incredible sense of smell. Since 1997, rats, and more particularly savannah cricetomas, have been trained to detect landmines, thus ridding certain countries, such as Tanzania, Cambodia and Angola, of the many mines scattered over their territories. Too light to trigger the explosives, the rats stop to scratch the ground as soon as the source of the TNT scent is found.
Man's best friend has a very powerful sense of smell, which is used in medicine to uncover diseases in humans. Dogs are able to smell the unique odours emitted by cancer cells, detecting cancer faster than a doctor. Thanks to this highly developed sense of smell, dogs are also able to detect the presence of explosives or drugs, however minute a quantity, after just a few months of training.
In the context of the pandemic that is currently affecting the world, it has been announced that dogs will be trained to detect carriers of the coronavirus. Over the course of 6 weeks, these canines will learn to detect affected individuals by using their sense of smell. This will then allow infected people to avoid transmitting the virus to those with whom they are in contact.