Animals thanks to their highly developed senses can help save lives. There is no doubt about the fact that there are animals with impressive abilities, but did you know that some animals can predict the earthquake phenomenon?
Today we are going to review the animals capable of predicting this type of event, sometimes even before measuring devices.
You may have heard of a number of critters that theoretically react to earthquakes, but in the case of ants, they only started making the list in 2013.
That’s probably because these animals are supposedly capable of anticipating an earthquake of magnitude 2.0 or greater; so low on the scale that many human beings would hardly feel it.
Can Animals Predict Earthquakes?
This is a topic that has long been the subject of fascination and speculation. Although there is no concrete scientific evidence to support the idea that animals can predict earthquakes, there have been many reports and eyewitness accounts over the years that suggest otherwise.
The oldest reference we have to unusual animal behaviour before a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes and centipedes reportedly left their homes and made their way to safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behaviour weeks or seconds before an earthquake.
These animals are true experts in earthquake prediction. Find out how they do it.
Yes, dogs could warn you that an earthquake is coming. A study conducted at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and led by Dr. Stanley Coren found that some dogs can detect an earthquake using their incredible sense of hearing.
Researchers believe that dogs can detect earthquakes due to their ability to hear extremely high frequencies, which allows them to hear high-pitched sounds of rocks breaking underground, the predecessor of an earthquake.
If you see that your cat loses his calm and tries to leave the house looking for shelter in the open air, it is time to worry, since our feline friends can sense disasters hours before they happen.
In 2018, a viral video showed several cats trying to escape from a Japanese cat cafe just 10 seconds before the Osaka earthquake. While there is no conclusive proof that cats can predict earthquakes, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they do.
According to experts, some of the most common cat behaviours before an earthquake include fleeing to safety, meowing loudly, and becoming anxious. So if you notice your kitty exhibiting one of these behaviours, it could mean an earthquake is coming. On the other hand, it could mean that he is hungry.
In 2020, researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Behavioral Studies and the Center for Advanced Studies in Collective Behavior at the University of Konstanz conducted in-depth research on animals that can predict earthquakes.
Somewhere in northern Italy, where earthquakes are frequent, six cows, five sheep and two dogs were fitted with tiny sensors so researchers could see if these animals can actually predict earthquakes. The investigation continued for several months.
Yes, birds can also predict earthquakes. And there are many cases that show that these winged creatures know.
Take the 2016 Oklahoma earthquake as an example. The quake struck at 7:03 AM on September 3. After the quake, the researchers found that radar images showed a large increase in the number of birds taking off 15 minutes before the event. This suggests that the birds might have known an earthquake was coming.
Red Wood Ants
Even the smallest creatures can tell us if an earthquake is coming.
Between 2009 and 2012, German scientists closely monitored sequoia ants located in the seismically active Neuwied Basin in Eifel, Germany, to learn more about their behaviour changes prior to a seismic event. Using high-resolution cameras to monitor these ants 24/7, the study found that these little creatures changed their typical pre-earthquake routine, becoming less active during the day and more lively at night.
The researchers believe these ants can detect earthquakes because they have “chemoreceptors for carbon dioxide gradients and magnetoreceptors for electromagnetic fields.”
In the tsunami that hit the coasts of the Indian Ocean, especially Thailand and Indonesia in 2004, elephants could be seen withdrawing and fleeing to higher altitudes hours before the waves hit the mainland. These giant animals have sophisticated hearing capable of detecting frequencies imperceptible to humans.
If the early warning is the goal, you may want to look towards shallower water – like your neighbourhood pond.
Scientists were studying the breeding habits of toads in Italy in 2009 when all the breeding pairs in their pond vanished. Three days later, the city of L’Aquila was rocked by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake. More than 300 people died.
If these animals were anticipating the earthquake, it was remarkably prescient. Not only were they 74 km from the epicentre of the earthquake, but they did not produce any new spawning (that is, they did not lay eggs) during the period between the initial tremor and the end of the last aftershock.
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