Sensory Exotica

A World beyond Human Experience

Bees, birds, bats, fish, and dolphins possess senses that lie far beyond the realm of human experience. In this book Howard C. Hughes tells the story of these "exotic" senses. He tells not only what has been discovered but how it was discovered—including historical misinterpretations of animal perception that we now view with amusement.

The book is divided into four parts: biosonar, biological compasses, electroreception, and the scents of attraction. Although the book is filled with fascinating descriptions of animal sensitivities, the author's goal is to explain the anatomical and physiological principles that underlie them. Knowledge of these mechanisms has practical applications in areas as diverse as marine navigation, biomedical sciences, and nontoxic pest control. It can also help us to obtain a deeper understanding of more familiar sensory systems and the brain in general.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. 1. Prologue: Perceptions, Misperceptions, and Egocentrism
  3. 2. The Discovery
  4. 3. The Bat Call
  5. 4. Processing the Echo—The Sonar Receiver
  6. 5. Variations on a Theme: Sonar Beneath the Seas
  7. 6. A Different Kind of Sonar Transmitter: The Dolphin Call
  8. 7. The Dolphin's Sonar Receiver
  9. 8. Maps, Mobility, and the Need for a Compass
  10. 9. Animal Migration: A Compass in the Head?
  11. 10. The Search for the Magnetoreceptor
  12. 11. The Sun Compass of Bees and Ants
  13. 12. The Discovery of Electroreception
  14. 13. The Electoreceptor
  15. 14. The Nature of Electroreceptors
  16. 15. The Electric Organ
  17. 16. Electroreception in the Social Context: Better Living through Electricity
  18. 17. Chemical Communication via Pheromones
  19. 18. Mammalian Pheromones
  20. 19. Human Pheromones?
  21. 20. Epilogue
  22. Source Notes
  23. References
  24. Index