Gallery of the Day: Animal Senses

August 9, 2011


Animals Sense is one of the galleries in the ‘animal stack’ at the National Museum of Scotland. Sandwiched between ‘Animal World’ on the floor below and ‘Survival’ on the floor above, it’s one of the atrium galleries that has the Wildlife Panorama rising up through the middle*.

“Our five senses help us to discover the world around us and communicate with others. Our brains process what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. All animals have their own way of sensing, many very different to our own – sharper sight, keener smell, super-sensitive touch, or even senses that are completely beyond our experience.” (gallery into panel)

This gallery really does what it says on the tin. There are sections covering the five senses we humans are familiar with ourselves – vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch – though presented from an animal perspective. Turns out we often measure up pretty poorly. Not only that, but to top that animals also have a number of ‘super senses’, and if you’re not already familiar with animals’ use of thermal imaging, ultraviolet, infrared & polarised light, echolocation & infrasound, electricity & magnetic fields, then you can find out about them in this gallery. Finally, there are sections looking at deception – which includes camouflage, pretence and mimicry – and communication. All the topics are made more accessible by a number of both mechanical and touch screen interactives, and of course, you can admire the Wildlife Panorama from this level too.


  • Star nosed mole (it’s tiny, so don’t miss it, it’s really cool!)
  • The chameleon & its super long tongue
  • Opossum playing dead
  • Two interlocked narwhals in the wildlife panorama
  • Also in the panorama at this level, @FlyingHippoNMS

Things to do

  • See like an insect via the cockroach & dragonfly ‘glasses’
  • Compare the hearing ranges of humans and several other animals
  • Test how good your sense of smell is
  • Feel the sound a blue whale makes
  • Try to catch as many moths as you can in 50 seconds, in the bat echolocation game (we only managed 3…)


* See the Animal World post for a description of the panorama.

** Please note that these are my own personal highlights and not necessarily recommended as such by the museum.


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