I love learning sensory and perception, especially about senses humans don’t have. I think it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to have these senses, but since it’s impossible, I just enjoy being in awe of how wonderfully designed these creatures are. The article is about 11 animals that have amazing sixth senses. Some of the senses semi-overlap, so I summarized by sense:
Mechanoreception – Spiders are able to detect tiny mechanical strains on their exoskeleton by using organs called slit sensilla. The spiders can sense details about their prey just from differences in mechanical pressure. Platypuses also equipped with mechanoreceptors in their bills.
Balance – Comb Jellies have balance receptors called statocysts that tell them how to orient themselves in the ocean’s currents and to obtain food.
Infrared – Pit Vipers have deep heat-sensing cavities between their nostrils and eyes that make it possible for the them to see in infrared.
Magnetoreception – Many birds have the ability to sense Earth’s magnetic field. More specifically, pigeons have iron-containing structures in their beaks that allow them to sense spatial orientation and identify their geographic position. Sea Turtles can also measure the Earth’s magnetic field and use it to locate their home beach.
Echolocation – Dolphins, porpoises, and bats have natural sonar that gives them the ability to use sound to navigate and find food. The wrinkled faces of bats can also function as another ear because the wrinkles help pick up sound. Interestingly, some blind humans have also learned to use a form of echolocation.
Electroreception – Sharks and rays can use this skill to find and analyze electric fields nearby. These electrical charges are emitted when an animal contracts its muscles. My favorite fact was that some sharks can pick up the charge of two AA batteries connected 1,000 miles apart, even if one battery was drained out. Platypuses also have this ability due to electroreceptors in their bills. Fun Fact: Platypuses are the most evolutionary distinct animal alive today.
Salmon Power! – haha. Scientists don’t really know how to classify the ability of salmon to find their home stream. However, “many suspect that salmon utilize ferromagnetic mineral magnetite deposits in their brain to pick up the Earth’s magnetic field.” Salmon also have an amazing sense of smell.
Pressure – Weatherfish can detect changes in water pressure and use that information to compensate for their lack of a swim bladder. Their skills are so good, people use Weatherfish swimming behavior to predict the weather!