Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition. All rights reserved. She points out two things that stand out: “Small sample sizes — only a few individuals of each species — and it is a correlation,” she writes in an e-mail. The animals anticipated eight out of nine earthquakes with magnitudes higher than 4.0 that occurred between January and April 2017. That’s how come horses know when there’s going to be an earthquake before humans has a clue. “But it's always a little bit iffy to say if this really [is] a good data set,” says Wikelski. —Joshua Rapp Learn (@JoshuaLearn1), Science Writer, News Several studies in the past have reported anecdotal evidence of animals exhibiting unusual behaviour prior to an earthquake. “It’s cool that someone actually tried to [document animal behavior prior to an earthquake],” she said, but the data look more randomly distributed to her. Equipped with a timeline of data on the behaviour of cows, sheep and dogs in 2016 and 2017, the researchers compared the timeline of animal activity with a timeline of earthquakes that were occurring in the same period. 12 April 2019, Science Update Wikelski, an ecologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, wanted to test a hunch that has been around for millennia — that animals portend earthquakes. The team also found that the farther the animals were from the quake’s epicenter, the longer it took for their behaviour to change, hinting at some slow diffusive signal that the animals detect. Although scientists had equipped the animals to test their ability to detect aftershocks from the M5 quake, an M6.6 earthquake happened just days after the first. When scientists initially examined the data, published recently in Ethology, they didn’t notice anything unusual. But on a closer look, the animals’ movements in some areas were like mayhem—particularly those that were kept in stables, from which they couldn’t escape. Equipped with a timeline of data on the behavior of cows, sheep and dogs from October 2016 and January-April 2017, the researchers compared the timeline of animal activity with a timeline of earthquakes that were occurring in the same period. I don’t know if the same applies to rabbits, but maybe it does? “To my eye, the correlation doesn’t really jump out at me when I look at it,” she said. 24 August 2020. They tagged a number of animals — six cows, five sheep, two dogs, a couple of chickens, turkeys and a rabbit — with sensors that measured the animal’s movement in three-dimensional space, like a Fitbit. Such evidence is not relegated to history books. Animals may sense the ionization of the air caused by the large rock pressures in earthquake zones with their fur. In his Natural History, 1st-century Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder noted that birds on sea vessels showed strange behavior before impending earthquakes, and scientific explorer Alexander von Humboldt noted in his travel narrative that locals in Venezuela “attentively observe the motions of dogs, goats, and swine,” the last of which he said can sense quakes because of “delicate olfactory nerves.”. “We’re incredibly lucky that we have [data collected] before, during, and after a major earthquake,” Wikelski said. When all animals start moving in different directions, the data appear like a “stock market crash.”. When major earthquake struck, it gave them a rare chance to monitor animals before, during and after an earthquake.
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