Animals live in their bubble

“How animals apprehend the world”, headlines the american magazine The Atlantic cover of its July-August issue. Like this owl capable of finding its way in the dark, thanks to a kind of“parabolic antenna” feathers that amplify sounds and direct them to their ear canals, many animals perceive their environment differently, thanks to their own sensory abilities. Some even send signals, like bats, which emit ultrasound to listen to the echo and locate themselves.

“Each animal is a prisoner of its sensory bubble, perceiving only a very small portion of an immense world”, sums up journalist Ed Wong in the long, headline-grabbing article.

There is a wonderful word for this sensory bubble: ‘Umwelt”.”

Umwelt, “the environment” in German, was taken up by the zoologist Jakob von Uexküll in 1909 to speak specifically of “the part of its environment that an animal can experience with its senses”, Explain The Atlantic.

“Sensory Pollution”

“Humans, however, possess the unique ability to understand Umwelten other species”, continues the magazine. And to realize how much “we have radically reshaped these worlds”. In fact, we humans “We filled the silence with noise and the night with light. This often overlooked phenomenon is called sensory pollution: human-made stimuli that interfere with the senses of other species.”

The consequences can be devastating for some animals. For example, an art installation in New York in memory of September 11, 2001, comprising two beams of intense blue light, would divert more than a million birds from their fall migration. Gold “Migrations are exhausting undertakings that take birds to their physiological limits. Even an overnight detour can fatally drain their energy reserves.”

Some species can adapt to this sensory pollution. But they don’t always have the time or the possibility. “Our influence is not inherently destructive, concedes The Atlantic, but it often tends towards homogenization.”

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