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Unexpectedly Human Perception

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Unexpectedly Human Perception is the trope where animals perceive (mainly see) the world in a way just like humans, even if in Real Life they have new senses, lack a human one, or otherwise differ from humans in sensory ways.

There are ways this trope manifests, such as a non-primate mammal seeing red and green separately, a bee seeing in a non-fisheye way, or things that don't relate to sight, like a caterpillar hearing a wide range of sounds. Another side of this trope is how mammals (or pretty much most animals apart from birds and dragonflies) in fiction rely on sight, rather than smelling (or some other sense) like in Real Life.


Furthermore, all animals in fiction have the five human senses, no more, and no less. Sight is the only variable, as eyeless creatures will be blind, usually.

Can be justified if the animal is anthropomorphic, but this doesn't explain how less human characters will fail to use their non-human main sense.

This is part of Artistic License – Biology and Most Writers Are Human. Like with all Artistic Licenses, Tropes Are Not Bad - when we need a clear perspective from the animal in question, all of the animal's unique sensory quirks/flaws may get in the way of the audience's effort to understand said perspective, although this trope is still used with animal senses that are above human level.

Contrast Bizarre Alien Senses, Mysterious Animal Senses, and Animals See in Monochrome.



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  • Fluke: Shortly after birth, Fluke is disconcerted by the re-emergence of ability to see colours beyond the range of a dog’s perspective.
  • An inversion is discussed in Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria. Marco, a cat, is surprised to learn that humans have poor night vision. He always thought lamps were for decoration.
  • Guardians Of Ga'Hoole: The series is from the point of view of owls, animals that typically see in limited or monochrome vision, but everything is described in full color. The most notable example is Nyroc first discovering the color of green, which he has a strong reaction to, despite not being able to see it in real life.
  • Dogs and wolves in Survivor Dogs see the same colors as humans. For example, autumn is called "Red Leaf" despite the fact real dogs can't distinguish reds well.
  • Science Marches On in the 1980s book Stray. Pufftail can distinguish red, which is a color that cats can't see.
  • Warrior Cats: Though the books are told from the point-of-view of cats, they still see things the way humans do. This means being able to make out colors they shouldn't be able to, such as red and green, while not being able to see in the dark. Kits are able to open their eyes within seconds they are born much like a human baby would, although it takes about several weeks before kittens are able to open their eyes and to see very well, (in Bluestar's Prophecy, Bluekit and her sister are able to open their eyes and can see from incredible far distances, and that's not even mentioning the fact that they can already know how to play and run around like 2 month old kittens instead of spending most of their time sleeping and struggling to walk properly until their bodies develop more like real life ones). In many books they are able to taste sweetness (with one character even being named "Sweetpaw") despite cats not being able to. This was fixed in later books as cats consider honey to be tasteless.

    Video Games 
  • Spore: All spore creatures with eyes can see perfectly well, as a human. Also, all creatures can hear, even without the physiological equipment to do so.

     Western Animation 
  • Cat from Peg + Cat has a Sweet Tooth, despite real cats being physically unable to taste sweetness.