Vibration of mammals -

Go to content

Main menu

Vibration of mammals

About mammals > Sensory systems mammal
The naked-mole rat

Aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascarensis) are among the mammals most obviously specialized to use vibrations. These Madagascar natives have long, slender third fingers. A foraging aye-aye taps branches with its elongated fingers and listens for reverberations that it uses to find hollows. The vibrations, combined with the noises made by insects moving through tunnels in wood or chewing to excavate tunnels, help aye-ayes find their prey.

Vibrations can also serve in communication. Vibrations tend to be low frequency, readily sensed by specialized hairs (whiskers) or other body parts. Nearly furless naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) live in a burrow system and announce their presence to nearby conspecifics in other burrows by tapping their heads against the roofs of tunnels. Elephants are thought to use vibrations to sense danger or intruders over long distances. Recent studies of captive elephants showed that male elephants in mating condition (musth) moved their foreheads in and out, movements coinciding with the production of low-frequency sounds. Although African elephants can detect acoustic signals of about 115 Hz at distances of 1.5 mi (2.5 km), they need to be closer (0.6–0.9 mi [1–1.5 km]) to extract individual-specific information about the signaler(s). Researchers also believe that elephants sense verylow-frequency vibrations with their large, flat feet, enabling them to detect the movements and signals of other elephants from great distances. Foot drumming is a common way to generate vibrations that are used in communication by mammals such as lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) as well as kangaroo rats and subterranean mammals.

Back to content | Back to main menu