The Ecology of Humans (16-2) Hearing Range


The 2 intertwined facets of hearing are how an animal hears, and what it is capable of hearing.


While overlap is ubiquitous, the range of hearing varies considerably among animals. From an evolutionary perspective, hearing is attenuated to communication and survival needs, such as for hunting or avoiding becoming prey.

Compared to many mammals, humans have a narrow hearing range: 20–20,000 Hz. The human ear is better at deep sounds, with drop-off at higher pitches. Unsurprisingly, human hearing is optimized to the vocal range of the human voice.

Like all mammals, humans’ hearing changes during life. Infants and children have very sensitive hearing. Later in life, high-pitched sounds become harder to hear.

Elephants hear from at least 14–12,000 Hz. Elephants communicate long distances at low frequencies, which carry well without distortion.

Dogs have a range of 40–46,000 Hz, seals 200–55,000 Hz, rodents 1,000–100,000 Hz, and dolphins 70–150,000 Hz, as well as possessing echolocation as a sonic wave-based sight sense.