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Hearing in animals

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All sounds are not normally audible to all animals. Each species has a range of normal hearing for both loudness (amplitude) and pitch (frequency). Many animals use sound in order to communicate with each other and hearing in these species is particularly important for survival and reproduction. In species using sound as a primary means of communication, hearing is typically most acute for the range of pitches produced in calls and speech.

Frequencies capable of being heard by humans are called audio or referred to as sonic. Frequencies higher than audio are referred to as ultrasonic, while frequencies below audio are referred to as infrasonic. Some bats use ultrasound for echo location while in flight. Dogs are able to hear ultrasound, which is the principle of 'silent' dog whistles. Snakes sense infrasound through their bellies, and whales, giraffes and elephants use it for communication.


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