Science Of...

Small Animals Perceive The World In Slow Motion

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Ever wonder why, no matter how lightning-fast you are with the fly swatter, flies always seem to be miles away once it hits? It turns out that flies and other small animals actually experience time differently than we do. They have faster reflexes because they actually perceive things in slow motion—at least, from our perspective.

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Seeing In Slow-Mo

Scientists who study how animals perceive the world have found that those with smaller bodies and faster metabolisms tend to take in more information per second. Put another way, they perceive time at high resolution, and to us, their vision would look like a slow-motion movie.

That affects how many animals interact with the human world. Because dogs receive visual information about 25 percent faster than humans, they can't effectively watch TV. To them, the screen looks like a series of flickering images. And as for flies, their slow-mo sight means that when they see us attempting to swat them, they have plenty of time to get out of the way.

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Animals That See In Slow Motion

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. A fly can take in up to 7 times more audio and visual information per second than a human. 00:45

  2. In a particularly dangerous or stressful situation, our perception of time seems to slow. 01:26

  3. Flies, squirrels, and pigeons seem especially adept at taking in a lot of information at once. 01:58

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