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Scientists Respond: Animals May Sense Earthquakes

Scientists Respond: Animals May Sense Earthquakes

Animals react to earthquakes

For thousands of years, people based on experience, has recognized that animals are more sensitive to earthquake hunch than people, in 1948, the Soviet Union, ashgabat two days before the earthquake, some people saw many reptiles appeared in large Numbers, they made a report to the relevant departments, but did not pay attention to, resulting in heavy losses. In 1968, an hour before the Armenian earthquake, thousands of snakes crossed roads in a mass migration that disrupted car traffic. In 1978, during the Alai earthquake in Central Asia, lizards left their hibernation days before the quake, and snakes crawled out of their burrow and froze to death in the snow a month before the quake. People have summarized the abnormal behavior of animals before earthquakes based on experience: barking dogs, jumping chickens, scurries of rats, and the absence of cattle and sheep in the pens. For example, before the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, people in Jinyang saw tens of thousands of toads migrating on a large scale, but people did not pay attention to these abnormal phenomena at that time.


The study was conducted shortly after the Oct. 26, 2016, earthquake, and Vickesky and his colleagues rushed to farms in the disaster zone to tag farm animals, hoping to learn how the animals reacted to aftershocks. They tagged six cows, five sheep, two dogs, two chickens, a Turkey and a rabbit, attaching Fitbit sensors to their bodies to measure their movements outdoors. Two days later, another earthquake struck, giving Vickesky a rare opportunity to monitor animal behavior before, during and after the quake.After this period of monitoring, they came to the farm a second time in January 2017 and re-labelled the animals until April 2017, during which time chickens and turkeys were slaughtered for their food. The researchers collected data on the timelines of cattle, sheep and dog behavior over October 2016 and January-April 2017, and compared the timelines of animal activity with the timelines of earthquakes that occurred during the same period. In collaboration with Winfried Pohlmeier, an economist at the University of Konstanz in Germany, they used established econometric models to compare the two data sets.

The scientist's response

Their results showed that animals showed consistent patterns of behavior before each earthquake, with eight of the nine temps above magnitude 4 that occurred between January and April 2017 predicted by the animals. However, this expected behavior occurred only when the animals were in captivity and not when they were free in open pastures. We don't know why this happened, and the team found that the farther the animals were from the epicenter of the quake, the longer it took them to change their behavior, suggesting that the animals felt some sort of slow-spreading signal, Vickesky said. Moreover, it is only when the collective behaviour of all three species is taken into account that unusual pre-earthquake behaviour becomes significant. Changes in individual behaviour are almost irrelevant; each animal senses its environment in a different way. "Anecdotal records are not conclusive evidence, and there is a great deal of uncertainty," Says Vickesky.

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