Animals with the best sense of touch in the world

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Mind and senses

© Ryan Sommer - flickr

Best earthquake detector – The catfish

Catfish are probably the most finely tuned creatures on earth. Unlike most fish, they don’t have scales and their smooth skin gives them a heightened sense of touch. In addition tiny hairs that run along the catfish’s side are very sensitive to vibrations. So much so, catfish are rumoured to be able to detect earthquakes days in advance.


© Sindhu Ramchandran - Wikimedia

Best fire detector – The jewel beetle

Using an infra-red sensor under one its legs, this beetle can detect a fire over 50 miles away. Astonishingly, the beetle then chooses to fly towards it. This is because once the inferno has passed, the burnt tree trunks that remain offer a rare opportunity for the jewel beetle to mate and lay its eggs in a predator-free environment.


© National Park Service (Public domain)

Most sensitive nose – The star nosed mole

This poor-sighted creature’s unique nose has almost six times more touch receptors than a human hand and it uses its nose more for feeling than smelling. As it makes its way down a tunnel, it sweeps its 22 fleshy tentacles back and forth with incredible speed touching 10-12 different objects per second. And as soon as a tasty worm is detected, it’s eaten within milliseconds.


© DeusXFLorida - flickr

Deadly vibrations – The crocodile & alligator

These deadly predators have 1000’s of tiny receptors - the size of the tip of a pencil - dotted mainly around their jaw line. These receptors enable them to sense the presence, movement and location of animals through vibrations in the water. For instance, they can pick up on the faintest change in their environment such as a when a wildebeest stops to take a drink.


© Rusty Boxcars - flickr

Best ‘touch at a distance’ – The sea cow (Manatee)

This odd looking sea animal has the ability to ‘touch at a distance’ which means it can feel objects from relatively far away. It can do this because its entire body is covered in tactile hairs whereas most mammals only have facial whiskers. Collectively these hairs enable the manatee to detect a change in current, water temperature and even tidal forces.


© mape_s - flickr

Best whiskers – The seal

A cat’s whiskers are incredibly sensitive and help it judge size and distance incredibly accurately. But a seal’s whiskers possess more nerve fibres per hair and are perhaps the most finely tuned whiskers in the animal kingdom. Using them, seals can track fish swimming 180 metres (591feet) away in even the murkiest of water.


© Scoobygirl - flickr

Most sensitive hairs – The cricket

When you have a lot of predators, it makes sense to stay alert. The cricket is helped in this quest by possessing incredibly sensitive hairs below its abdomen. These hairs are able to pick up the faintest change in air flows produced by attacking predators such as flying wasps and running spiders.


© Peasap - flickr

Good vibrations – The spider

A male spider will often cause the web of a female spider to vibrate in a special manner to alert her that he is about to approach. The vibrations tell the female that the intruder on her web is a potential mate and not a juicy insect ready to be eaten.

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