Humans Are Not the Best at Anything

Silly, cocky human species. It’s easy to get first in a race when you’re the only one running it, but when we include everyone, well …

Humans are not the best at seeing.

Courtesy of Arthur de Bock

Courtesy of Arthur de Bock

No shocker there. Never have I ever come in contact with a wild animal in need of corrective lenses. The award for vision goes to the mantis shrimp. Quick science lesson: We have photoreceptors in our eyes that allow us to see. These photoreceptors come in rods and cones. Rods give you black & white. Cones give you color. Humans have 3 cones; red, green, and blue. (RGB sound familiar?) This slick mofo, mantis shrimp, has 16 cones. WHAT? No joke, they can see 13 other color combos beyond our perception, but, joke’s on them because their brains are so infantile they just throw those other colors in the brain-trash unless they’re conducive to hunting, mating, and survival. Also, before you go thinking, “Well, at least humans get second place.” Wrong. Butterflies have five cones.

Humans are not the best at hearing.


Courtesy of Henry Grabar

The greater wax moth wins the auditory award. These kids are generally beyond boring. They come in these awful colors; brown, lighter brown, and almost-white-but-still-brown brown, and they wear it so terribly, they’re a disgrace to look at. No one would give these butterfly rejects any attention if they didn’t have the ability to hear frequencies up to 300 kHz. I realize that you are probably not a scientist and 300 kHz is like, “Eh, ok …” until I tell you that even the most winning humans can only hear up to 20 kHz — no, it’s not missing a 0 on the end. Funny thing, the only reason the greater wax moth even bothers to hear so well is to outwit its primary predator, the bat. These moths, sick of getting all eaten up, held a grand council meeting and unanimously decided to evolve so they can pick up on bats’ echolocation and get the hell outta dodge before the bat-gang shows up.

Humans are not the best at tasting.

Courtesy of True Wild Life

Courtesy of True Wild Life

Even the most critical food critic is no match for what is been called, “the swimming tongue,” or its more universally recognized (but still scientifically incorrect) title, the catfish. No matter how much we want to complain about what’s on our plate, the catfish deserves that right the most. We wear about 10,000 taste buds on our tongues only. Poor catfish has to swim around in dirt-nasty water sporting something in the ballpark of 200,000 taste buds (It varies with size.) scattered all over his body, most densely distributed on the whiskers. Whether they like it or not, they can taste down to the proteins in the water and, using their whiskers, taste dinner before it even gets inside them.

There’s a million other things out there that we give ourselves more credit for than we deserve, but these are my favorites and I do what I want. If you dare refute me, drop a comment and I will summon all the powers of the Internet before me to prove you wrong.



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