Hearing Without Being Heard

One of the most interesting design features seen in the world of living things is the frequency range in which living things can pick up sounds. Humans are generally considered to be able to hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 vibrations per second (hertz). That range allows us to communicate through the air and to have the conveniences like guitars that allow us to be able to hear music.

Doctor and patient Recent studies of other animals show that they are carefully designed to hear in other parts of the sound spectrum. Dogs, for example, can hear frequencies far above 20,000 hertz--this is called ultrasonic and is the same range of frequencies used in ultrasonic examinations of humans. This has an advantage for a dog. Try to open a door without a dog hearing it open. The hinge sends out a frequency too high for you to hear, but the dog hears it well, and will not be surprised by your presence. Recently scientists have become aware of animals that hear in the low frequency range. Elephants, whales, and other large animals can communicate over many miles because lower frequencies travel more efficiently through the ground than the frequencies we hear. Moles also communicate with these low frequencies. If a mole communicated through sounds we could hear, finding and killing moles would be easy for us and for other animals that might eat them. Because they communicate at frequencies far lower than 20 hertz, they are able to communicate under ground and yet not be detected by animals above the ground that might kill them.

 Frogs, snakes, and many insects have recently been shown to have the ability to communicate in the very low frequency part of the sound spectrum, each carefully designed to be able to live its life without detection and yet with good communication with others of its kind. This is not a chance process. If you give off a sound that those forms that like to eat you can hear, you will be literally dead meat. Trial and error is not an option in this designed system of living. The world of sound is incredible, and it speaks eloquently of the God who designed us to hear and gave us beauty that the eye cannot see.

 --Reference: Science News, March 24, 2001, page 190.

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