Different Senses Mean Different Umwelts

Every species experiences our planet differently

Katrina Paulson
6 min readOct 29, 2022


Photo by Sean Robertson on Unsplash

Isn’t it interesting how once you become aware of something, you start seeing it everywhere? It doesn’t matter what it is, either. If you’re considering buying a yellow car, you see yellow vehicles everywhere. Wondering whether to switch jobs or make another major life decision? Signs seemingly from the Universe pop up anywhere you look. Well, it appears I’m going through something like that.

I’ve written a few articles lately that dance around the same concept. The idea is that there is far more to Life than we thought, and much of it occurs beyond our reach. This is even more apparent when you consider that despite our unique intelligence or conscious awareness, our senses still limit us. Many animals have capabilities we lack, so imagine what their experience of our planet is like.


I’ve written about this before in more detail, but somewhere along the way, we humans evolved the ability to become emotionally attached and even assign human-like traits to non-human entities. Which, by the way, don’t even have to be alive — like your favorite mug. This trait is called anthropomorphization. We don’t know how long we’ve had this ability, maybe since the beginning, but it at least goes back to our ancient ancestors.

Then during the nineteenth century, our anthropomorphizing habits influenced the development of Scala Naturae — the idea that humans are at the peak of the supposed pyramid or “tree of life” and have essentially crowned ourselves the superior species on the planet. Both anthropomorphization and the belief in human superiority over the animal kingdom influenced our bias toward the actual experiences of animals.

According to a 2018 paper published in Frontiers, so much animal research is imbued with anthropomorphism that the terminology for animals’ sensory physiology is primarily based on how humans perceive the stimuli with our own senses — despite the sometimes vast differences between the animal we’re studying and us.


If you’ve read much of my writing, then you know that living in a world created of opposites, and finding balance within it, is a…



Katrina Paulson

I wonder about humanity, questions with no answers, and new discoveries. Then I write about them here and on substack! https://curiousadventure.substack.com