Scientists might be able to calculate the probability that an earthquake will occur in a specific area of the globe, but no scientist has ever predicted a major earthquake. And it’s unlikely that they will be able to in the foreseeable future.
Certain animals, however, are said to possess a sixth sense for natural disasters like earthquakes. Researchers have long studied animals they believe can predict earthquakes in order to understand what they feel or hear before the earth shakes. It would be an invaluable prediction tool to better prepare for such disasters and significantly reduce injuries and deaths.
So, which animals have this unusual and phenomenal ability? Here are 10 animals that can predict earthquakes.
Yep, your furry friend might be able to warn you that an earthquake is coming. A study performed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and conducted by Dr. Stanley Coren found that some dogs can detect an earthquake using their incredible sense of hearing.
Of the 193 dogs included in the study, half showed an increase in activity and anxiety twenty four hours prior to an earthquake in the Seattle area. And according to the study, pointy-eared dogs possessed stronger detection abilities than floppy-eared dogs.
Researchers believe that dogs can detect earthquakes due to their ability to hear extremely high frequencies which enable them to hear high-pitch sounds of rocks breaking beneath the earth – the predecessor of an earthquake.
Further research shows that dogs exhibit erratic behavior, such as excessive barking or biting prior to an earthquake – signs that can be used to forecast natural disasters like earthquakes.
Turns out, cows do much more than moo.
In 2020, researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Behavioral Studies and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behavior at the University of Constance carried out an in-depth investigation of animals that can predict earthquakes.
Somewhere in Northern Italy where earthquakes are frequent, six cows, five sheep, and two dogs were fitted with small sensors in order for researchers to see whether these animals can actually forecast earthquakes. The investigation continued for several months.
Researchers noted that cows become less active prior to an earthquake. In fact, they pretty much freeze shortly before an earthquake strikes.
Most likely, it’s due to cows being able to feel the ionization of the air or smell the gases released from the rocks before an earthquake.
3: Red Wood Ants
Even the smallest of creatures may be able to tell us whether an earthquake is approaching.
From 2009-2012, German scientists closely monitored red wood ants located at the seismically active Neuwied Basin in Eifel, Germany to learn more about their behavioral changes before an earthquake event. Using high-resolution cameras to monitor these ants 24/7, the study found that these little creatures changed their typical routine prior to an earthquake, becoming less active during the day and more lively at night.
Researchers believe these ants are able to detect earthquakes because they have “chemoreceptors for carbon dioxide gradients and magnetoreceptors for electromagnetic fields.”
If you wanna know when an earthquake is coming, hang out with a snake. According to the experts, snakes are the most sensitive to earthquakes. In other words, if anyone’s gonna know, it’s probably going to be one of these slithering reptiles.
When an earthquake is about to occur, snakes are said to exit their nests. If it’s a major earthquake, snakes will even collide with walls in a bid to escape. Snakes are so sensitive to earthquakes, they can sense one approaching from around 120 km (70 miles) away, three to five days before it hits.
Some seismologists believe snakes can detect the p-wave generated by an earthquake, while others say it could be due to the increase in low frequency electromagnetic fields.
Toads may also be able to tell us whether an imminent earthquake is coming. Okay, so they can’t exactly dm us, but the signs are all there for us to know whether a natural disaster is going to occur. As long as we watch and listen closely, we can definitely benefit from staying close to toads.
In a study published in the Journal of Zoology, a colony of toads abandoned their mating site 74km from the epicentre of L’Aquila earthquake in Italy – three days before it happened. Toads only returned to the site 10 days later, following the end of the earthquake’s aftershocks.
Interestingly, it was an accidental discovery made by life scientist Rachel Grant. She was going out every evening at dusk to study the effects of the lunar cycle on the toad’s behavior and reproduction. Usually, they’d arrive for breeding in early March in huge groups. Then one day, she noticed there were no toads at all. Three days later, the earthquake happened.
While there’s very little evidence showing a horse’s ability to detect earthquakes, there have been some instances in history that suggest the animal could possess predictive powers.
In 1906, horses were said to run off in a panic ahead of the San Francisco earthquake. However, not all horses exhibited the same behavior before the event. Some horses whinnied or snorted prior to the event, while others became frightened and ran away. Then there were some that screamed and shivered.
It just goes to show that many animals have capabilities much deeper and more significant than we could ever imagine. Capabilities not even humans have!
Yep, birds may also be able to predict earthquakes. And there’s quite a lot of instances that show that these winged creatures know.
Take the Oklahoma earthquake in 2016. The quake struck at 7.03 am on September 3. Following the earthquake, researchers discovered that radar images showed a huge increase in the number of birds taking off 15 minutes ahead of the event. This suggests that the birds could have known that a quake was coming.
Then there was the 1975 quake in the Chinese city of Haicheng. Ahead of that event, there had been many strange animal behaviors reported, including geese flying into trees.
Pigs also started digging under the fences of their sties.
We already know that felines have some remarkable capabilities. But did you know that cats predict earthquakes, too, or at least – that’s what some scientists believe.
In 2018, a viral video showed several cats trying to escape a Japanese cat cafe only 10 seconds prior to the Osaka earthquake. While there’s no conclusive proof that cats can predict earthquakes, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that does.
According to the experts, some of the most common cat behaviors before a quake include fleeing to safety, meowing loudly, and becoming anxious. So if you notice your kitty exhibiting one of these behaviors, it could mean a quake is approaching. Then again, it could just mean she’s hungry.
Cows aren’t the only farm animal capable of detecting earthquakes. Sheep, too, are particularly sensitive to quakes. According to researchers, increased activity can be seen in sheep that detect earthquakes. If this excessive activity is sustained for more than an hour, it could be a sign that an earthquake is on its way.
Elephants are also said to show unusual movement patterns prior to earthquakes. While research is still limited, scientists believe elephants may be able to tell us whether an earthquake is coming.