Even today, nobody can reliably predict when and where an earthquake will occur. However, eyewitnesses have repeatedly reported that animals behave unusually before an earthquake. In an international cooperation project, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Konstanz/Radolfzell and the Cluster of Excellence Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, have investigated whether cows, sheep, and dogs can actually detect early signs of earthquakes. To do so, they attached sensors to the animals in an earthquake-prone area in Northern Italy and recorded their movements over several months. The movement data show that the animals were unusually restless in the hours before the earthquakes. The closer the animals were to the epicenter of the impending quake, the earlier they started behaving unusually. The movement profiles of different animal species in different regions could therefore provide clues with respect to the place and time of an impending earthquake. You may watch a video about the research project in campus.kn, the online magazine of the University of Konstanz: https://www.campus.uni-konstanz.de/en/science/the-sixth-sense-of-animals-an-early-warning-system-for-earthquakes. Please see details of the new research below. The results were published online on June 3, 2020 in Ethology. The open-access article is titled ““Potential Short-Term Earthquake Forecasting by Farm-Animal Monitoring” (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eth.13078). Experts disagree about whether earthquakes can be exactly predicted. Nevertheless, animals seem to sense the impending danger hours in advance. For example, there are reports that wild animals leave their sleeping and nesting places immediately before strong quakes and that pets become restless.
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