Red Riding Hood thought the wolf had big ears. She had no idea.

From bugs to elephants, many animals have evolved large ears as adaptations to hot environments or strategies for finding food. (Read about what whale ears have that ours don’t.)

The African elephant has the biggest ears of any living animal. These floppy appendages serve to quickly dissipate heat through the ears’ many blood vessels into the air.

Asian elephants live amid the shaded—and cooler—cover of the rainforest, and hence have smaller ears. (“Related: African Elephants, Two Wildly Different Species?”)

But their ears aren’t elephants’ only “ears.”

Both species of elephant can detect vibrations underground through their feet, enabling them to detect the sound of stampeding animals from miles away—a signal that predators may be near.


There are 33 species of this hopping rodent, native to the deserts of southern Mongolia and northwestern China.

The most oddly proportioned family member is the long-eared jerboa, first caught on film in the wild in 2007 during a Zoological Society of London expedition to the Gobi.