Humans have very distinctive facial features, skin color and body types. These factors make it easy for us to recognize each other. But how do animals recognize each other, who look almost the same? For example, how does a penguin know its partner or parent in a crowd of thousands of penguins? Same applies to various other animals that look almost similar such as squirrels, sheep, birds, dolphins, etc. Well, to understand that, here’s a quick look at the various methods that animals use to recognize each other.
Sight – Just like humans, some animals like birds may use their sight to recognize each other. We may not be able to tell a bird from another, but things may appear more distinctive from the eyes of a bird. Research studies have found that many birds can see a lot more variations in color than the human eye is capable. This makes it easier for them to recognize each other.
Smell – Many animals rely on smell to identify each other. Odors can indicate towards familial or genetic relatedness. Animals like birds, mammals, fish, insects, and amphibians often use odor to identify each other.
Sound – The sound produced by an animal can be as distinctive as a fingerprint. Many animals rely on sound notes to recognize each other. The sound made by an animal may indicate various things such as its age, tribe, family or outsider, and normal or danger signal.
Why animals need to recognize each other?
Just like humans, most animals are social beings. The reasons why animals need to recognize each other are quite similar to that of humans. Here are some of those key reasons.
- Nepotism – Many animals display nepotistic behavior, in which preference is given to the nearest of kin. This is one key reason why animals need to recognize each other.
- Prevent inbreeding – Even when animals don’t have the knowledge of science, they are aware that close inbreeding can be harmful for them. This is where recognition helps them to avoid inbreeding.
- Identify threats – This is especially true in case of young animals that may not be able to defend themselves. They need to be able to tell the difference between their nearest kin and outsiders.
Overall, animals may use either one or multiple methods (as described above) to recognize each other. It is also important to note that humans currently have limited understanding of how animals recognize each other. More research is needed to come to a definitive conclusion about how animals recognize each other.