So, after watching Because Science's video about spider sensory organs that could enable Spider-Mans' Spider-Sense, where it states that if the slit sensila on the spiders exoskeleton joints were genetically repurposed and added into the human endoskeleton joints so the subject could feel the tremors in contact with the ground (somewhat like Toph Beifong from Avatar: The Last Airbender) and this could be an advantage as sound travels faster trough the ground, I got interested in applying this sense to a character, but I still wonder what and to what extent the limitation would be?

I know this is kinda of a tricky question to answer, but you can assume that the sensory receptors work at the limit of physics as stated in the video, I just want to know how much the soft tissue sorrounding the joints would damper the sensitivity and if this could be a problem that would need to be worked around.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You gotta explain stuff my man. We cannot read your mind. Who is this Kyle fella and what is this video of what you speak? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Nov 14, 2022 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron Sorry! Already edited the question with the link to the video. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2022 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ Dude, Kyle looks exactly as I would expect. Radical! I wonder is Kyle his real name? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Nov 15, 2022 at 10:08

2 Answers 2


In a way, we already have such senses.

Humans possess proprioceptive senses that tell us what position our limbs are in, as well as other touch senses. In the event of a tremor, the motion transmitted from the floor to the feet will result in our feeling the movement.

Of course, we could be genetically engineered to do it better... with more sensitive vibration senses in the feet that signal faster for rising pressure and slower for decreasing pressure, and better designed neural pathways, we could use such a sense to not only detect but locate a nearby footfall blindfolded. However, what would be the cost? Would such a person be unable to run due to the excessive stimulus of their feet hitting the ground too hard?

  • $\begingroup$ Just found out that elephants can listen through the ground because of special receptors in their feet so yeah it seem like it's possible! $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2022 at 4:08

Snakes do this

It is a common legend that snakes are deaf and hear through vibrations in the ground. Wikipedia seems to support this:

Snakes have lost a tympanic membrane, and hence a distal attachment for the columella. The columella is instead connected to the quadrate bone of the jaw. Thus, snakes are able to detect and localize ground vibrations through the lower jaw, rather than the sides of the head.


Snakes still hear through their head. The hearing stuff is attached to the lower jaw which touches the ground. So it is not quite like a person hearing through their feet.

Elephants hear through their feet. But I believe the word is they do it to communicate with other herds dozens of miles away. They do not use vibrations to find things nearby.

Elephant feet are for low-frequency vibrations that carry for miles and miles. Similar to the songs of large whales. More high pitched sounds will be absorbed after a few metres. For those sounds the elephants use their ears.

It is unlikely we can genetically engineer a feature that is not already present in nature. The most believable way to genetically engineer tremor-sense is to mimic the snake and extend the lower mandible so it touches the ground. This was predicted in the Little Mermaid:

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  • $\begingroup$ Not only does this answer dispel a common misconception about snakes, it also blows the lid off The Little Mermaid's genetic engineering agenda, which has been hidden for far too long. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Nov 16, 2022 at 1:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tom Sometimes I answer the questions people ask. Sometimes I answer the questions people are afraid to ask. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Nov 16, 2022 at 14:31

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