Animals ability to sense impending natural disasters.


by TR345
Tags: ability, animals, disasters, impending, natural, sense
TR345
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#1
Sep9-07, 02:48 AM
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Elephents in thailand heading to high ground before tsunami. Animals acting funny before earthquakes. Etc.
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farmfriend
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#2
Sep9-07, 10:48 AM
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I saw a test done once where dog's could sense their masters coming home. It was an interesting test.
CEL
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#3
Sep9-07, 02:00 PM
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Take a look at this:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/anima...talltales.html

zoobyshoe
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#4
Sep10-07, 11:55 AM
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Animals ability to sense impending natural disasters.


Quote Quote by CEL View Post
But we should be careful not to give animals super-powers, says Whit Gibbons, an ecologist at the University of Georgia. "I always like stories of animals outsmarting humans, [but] I really don't think animals have any special powers beyond those that help them in their daily lives," writes Gibbons. "I do not doubt that many animals detect certain natural signals, such as the early tremblings of an earthquake, long before humans. This means they have opportunity to react before we can. But to think they are reacting any differently from someone who runs for an exit at a shout of 'fire' is to give wildlife more credit than is deserved."

"As far as running inland to get away from a tsunami, I think an antelope, flamingo, or any other fast animal would probably do so because that's where the forests are. Feeling a trembling earth, even if minutes before we would feel it, would not give much guidance to a running or flying animal other than a response to seek safety. The woods are the safest place for most animals, so when they flee from a shoreline they go inland, which means not only woods but higher ground. Completely natural and not at all mystical."

Bill Barklow, a researcher who appears in this week's NATURE, also believes animals aren't specially adapted to avoid disaster. "I think it's really unlikely that hippos or any animal has evolved behavior to avoid tsunamis specifically," he says. "When they hear these infrasonic sounds that are produced by earthquakes, which happen very infrequently, they probably are just terrified of that very deep, heavy sound coming from a wide angle distant area and they just want to get out of there. So there's a secondary benefit here. They haven't evolved an escape behavior for tsunamis, but they are responding to infrasound, which has evolved for communication purposes."
Likewise, the reputed ability of dogs to sense when someone is about to have a seizure may have been overblown:

Interest in "seizure dogs" first came about in the 1980's when the news media picked up on a story that a woman's dog seemed to know when she was going to have a seizure. Since then the publics interest in "seizure dogs" has grown and created a demand for information, and how to get a dog. Let us investigate the "seizure dog" to see what it is all about.

In the late 1990's the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida and other Florida Epilepsy Service Providers assisted the University of Florida in a study about the reported activities of "seizure dogs". Clients of the Epilepsy Services Program of Florida with dogs were requested to complete a survey. Dr. Roger Reep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of physiological sciences at the University of Florida in 1998 surveyed 77 people between the ages of 30 and 60 who had epilepsy. Most of the people responding had dogs for companionship, 3 out of 31 felt their dogs seemed to know when they were going to have a seizure (10%) while another 28% said their dogs stayed with them when the had a seizure. He concluded that reports should be viewed as credible, but with caution.

Based on these findings, and others, maybe the term seizure assistance dog would be more valid at this time. There have been many reports of dogs assisting someone during a seizure, such as alerting families of child when having a seizure, or lying on someone having a seizure to prevent injury. Dogs have been trained for many years to be assistance dogs to people with disabilities, and with seizures this would also be true. Dogs can be trained to seek help, sound an alarm, keep a person out of harms way, etc. However, research is still mixed on whether a dog can be trained to forewarn of an impending seizure. Most incidences of this type behavior in dogs is seen when someone has had a relationship with their dog, and their dog may have developed a sense enabling them to pick up on subtle changes in behavior of their master.
http://www.epilepsy-cf.org/seizure_dogs.htm
Ivan Seeking
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#5
Sep14-07, 09:38 PM
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A buddy and I once had his dog track us down out in the middle of the woods, several miles from his house. We had just parked when he startled both of us when he jumped into the bed of the truck.

My guess was that he followed the exhaust trail. I don't see how he could have followed the sound of the engine echoing through the hills. And as quickly as he found us, it was almost certainly not blind luck.
scpg02
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#6
Sep15-07, 02:45 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
A buddy and I once had his dog track us down out in the middle of the woods, several miles from his house. We had just parked when he startled both of us when he jumped into the bed of the truck.

My guess was that he followed the exhaust trail. I don't see how he could have followed the sound of the engine echoing through the hills. And as quickly as he found us, it was almost certainly not blind luck.
Very likely though he could just have easily followed your sent. Watch those police shows enough or science shows on dogs and you will see them track people who have driven away in vehicles. Shoot they can smell cancer in your body. Amazing what they can do scent wise.
bassplayer142
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#7
Sep20-07, 10:40 PM
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Quote Quote by TR345 View Post
Elephents in thailand heading to high ground before tsunami. Animals acting funny before earthquakes. Etc.

It is crazy to think that an animal would be able to sense a natural disaster. But what really confuses me is how the elephant decided to go to high ground. I'm sure the animal doesn't know what a tsunami is and that high ground is the answer. Why didn't it get scared and maybe run or hide in a hidden area. It knew to go to high ground.
Ivan Seeking
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Sep21-07, 03:10 AM
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Perhaps in the case of the Tsunami, they could sense ground vibrations and the direction of the source, and ran the other way.
Capuchin
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Sep21-07, 08:38 AM
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Quote Quote by farmfriend View Post
I saw a test done once where dog's could sense their masters coming home. It was an interesting test.
My dog always whimpers at the door when members of family normally come home, even if they don't come home because of an engagement that evening.
Moonbear
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Sep21-07, 05:36 PM
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I've moved this thread over to biology from Skepticism and Debunking, because it's really not very unexplained that different animals sense the environment differently than humans do, and are also more sensitive to things in the environment (including changes in weather) that humans either fail to perceive, or fail to react to upon perceiving. There's no reason not to discuss this from a biological perspective. We may not know the precise mechanisms at this time, but I am unaware of any credible explanation other than one involving the sensory systems.

However, upon moving it, I removed the sidetrack in the thread that does not directly address the opening question, and is not suitable for biology. I will discuss with Ivan if it is worth splitting into it's own thread in S&D, or leaving deleted, so it is deleted for now until we figure out what to do with it (just so anyone following this thread knows where their posts have gone if they were ones affected by the deletions).
Astronuc
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Sep21-07, 05:54 PM
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Elephants, or rather their feet, are sensitive to low frequency vibrations, and they apparently communicate over long distances through the ground using low frequency vibration - IIRC in the Hz range. Humans may not be sufficiently sensitive to it.

The speed of sound will be much faster in solid ground than water, so pressure waves would precede a tsunami. Perhaps the elephants sense the disturbances in the ground caused by the quake or tsunami and decided to head in the opposite direction.

If one stands by a roadway (particularly with bare feet), one can feel the vibrations from cars and trucks. It's a normal phenomenon.


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