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Bullwinkle Had Great Hearing: Who Knew?

Moose, of the Bullwinkle variety, are known to have excellent hearing. They can pick up a mating call from up to two miles away. That's pretty good, don't you think?

The Study of Moose Antler Technology

George and Peter Bubenik published a study that suggested the Bull Moose's gigantic antlers boosted hearing ability by up to 20%. In addition moose have big ears - more than 60 times bigger then human ears. So, combine big ears, big antlers and a mating call and you see that these giant relatives of deer have it going on. It's good to be a moose.

The Bubenik study employed trophy antlers positioned around an artificial ear that contained a microphone and sound level meter. As the antlers were positioned and re-positioned, the father-son team, writing in the European Journal of Wildlife, concluded:

"These findings strongly indicate that the palm of moose antlers may serve as an effective parabolic reflector." In plain speak, sound bounces off the antlers into those big ears, enabling Bull Moose to hear at distances of two miles from the sound source.

Study co-author, George Bubenik, stated that "So far, there is no evidence any other deer species has this capacity."

Early Hearing Aids

Many of the earliest hearing devices employed concepts similar to moose technology - big devices to capture sound waves that were then funneled (literally) to the ear canal.

Even back in great-gram's day, hearing loss was stigmatized and ways to "discreetly" improve hearing were used by those who could afford them.

To see examples of some of these early hearing aids click here .

Hearing Aid Technology Marches On

Once electricity came into widespread use, hearing aid technology improved significantly, employing smaller units that emphasized their discretion. Even then, hearing loss was viewed as a sign of age, of "being broken" and of being a limited.

Today's Technology

Thanks to digital electronics, today's hearing aids - even entry-level units - are deep in automated convenience, adjusting automatically to sound conditions. Set it and forget it.

Modern technology has also improved sound quality. Old-timey hearing aids weren't much more than semi-portable amplifiers, amplifying all sound equally.

Today, directional microphones adjust automatically, blocking out background noise while amping up the person across from you. Bet no moose could do that!

Wearing comfort has also come a long way. Today, consumers have choices. From completely in the canal (CIC) units that are invisible to the rest of the world, to wild and wonderful behind-the ear (BTE) devices that come in a variety of hot colors for those who don't feel stigmatized by hearing loss.

Bottom line is this: Although we once used Moose technology as hearing aids, we are light years ahead of moose technology in hearing aids these days.

Like what you're reading?   Visit HealthyHearing for a full featured article on Moose Antlers as Hearing Aids?

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