The owl’s unusual ears.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Owls do have excellent vision, but one would need either infrared or x-ray vision to see a small mammal under the snow. Instead, owls do much of their hunting with the aid of their incredible hearing.

Owl hearing has been most extensively studied in Barn Owls. These pale predators can see very well in low light, but their ears are better. Their hearing is the best of any animal that has ever been tested.

All owls possess extremely sensitive hearing, allowing them to hear low-volume sounds that are relatively far away. But beyond that, many owls also have an uncanny ability to hone in on the exact location of a sound source. Owls with this special ability have an unusual anatomical trait: ears that are positioned asymmetrically on their heads.

In the Barn Owl, for example, the external ear canals are offset in two ways. One ear is higher than the other, and one ear is also farther forward on the head than the other. This unusual arrangement helps the Barn Owl locate the source of sounds in three-dimensional space with great precision. Tiny differences in the time it takes for sounds to reach each ear allow the owl to almost instantly zero in on the sound’s precise location. The owl can determine not only the direction of a sound but its height (i.e. on the ground or in a tree) and distance as well.1

Do these “unusual anatomical traits” sound (pun intended) like the result of random chance mutations over millions of years of evolution or a product of an intelligent Designer?

“And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”

Genesis 1:20-23

References and Notes

  1. How Can An Owl Catch A Mouse Underneath A Foot Of Snow In Total Darkness?[]


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