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Cattle align north-south

  1. Aug 27, 2008 #1

    Defennder

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    Is there any explanation for this?

    Really odd, isn't it? What kind of evolutionary advantage could such a behaviour confer on the cattle?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2008 #2
  4. Aug 27, 2008 #3

    mgb_phys

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    That when a predator appears the whole herd run in the same direction?
     
  5. Aug 27, 2008 #4

    lisab

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    I read this and my initial reaction was to laugh out loud.

    I don't think cows have built-in compasses. Rather, I think they must be aligning themselves to get maximum sun on themselves.

    (The article I read didn't say which direction they faced. I assume it's random...if they all face North or all face South, I would reconsider my interpretation.)

    Apparently there's a global cow-cooling crisis.
     
  6. Aug 27, 2008 #5

    mgb_phys

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    The article claims they faced magnetic north and that they accounted for sun direction, although it doesn't say if they found australian/argentinian cows facing south.

    Many animal shave built in compasses, although there are no plans to replace homing pigeon races with homing cows.
     
  7. Aug 27, 2008 #6

    Defennder

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    That might be plausible, except that presumably the herd would run in the direction away from the predator regardless of the original direction they were facing.
     
  8. Aug 27, 2008 #7

    wolram

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    For sure i have never seen cows lined up like this, if they do lay down it has all ways seemed to be in a random fashion to me.
     
  9. Aug 27, 2008 #8

    lisab

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    Ah - the article I read this morning didn't report that. OK, scratch my cold-cow hypothesis.
     
  10. Aug 27, 2008 #9

    turbo

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    Are those cold collisionless non-baryonic cows? Maybe a hint at a cosmological mystery...is there some cow-value (like spin, charge, polarity) that makes them align this way? If the cows preferentially assume the same orientation (occupy similar quantum-cow states) they must be macro-bosons, as opposed to macro-fermions.
     
  11. Aug 27, 2008 #10

    mgb_phys

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    In which case be carefull of any cow that points south, it's an anti-cow.
    You can't use them for hamburger but you can make lasagna, so long as you use anti-pasta.
     
  12. Aug 27, 2008 #11

    turbo

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    Certainly, meat from the south-facing cows could be served with a nice antipasto with little or no fear of violent mutual destruction (gastric distress).
     
  13. Aug 27, 2008 #12

    turbo

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    There is a friend on another forum who is constructing an observatory. He is trying to figure out how the bolts that he will embed in his concrete pier need to be aligned. We have discussed magnetic declination, GPS accuracy, topographical map accuracy, and time-dependent Sun-alignment. Should I advise him to consult the cows?
     
  14. Aug 28, 2008 #13
    Remind him to use an average cow. No other cow will do.
     
  15. Aug 28, 2008 #14

    RonL

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    I have on a few occasions noticed the same thing with cows, one specific time there was no sunshine, as it was right before an extended rain.

    Something along the same line, large groups of birds flying in the air will change directions at exactly the same moment, the size of the group seems to make no difference.???
     
  16. Aug 28, 2008 #15

    Defennder

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    I don't see how the fact that birds fly in formation got to do with this. I admit my ignorance, but I believe the reason why they change their directions at the same time is to preserve their flying formation.
     
  17. Aug 28, 2008 #16
    I had a dog that always spun around. I guess it was a monodog.
     
  18. Aug 28, 2008 #17

    jtbell

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    Better yet, a spherical cow of uniform density. That's the easiest kind to analyze theoretically.
     
  19. Aug 28, 2008 #18

    RonL

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    Just thought we were considering unexplained alignment issues.:uhh:
     
  20. Aug 28, 2008 #19
    Maybe it's got to do with the wind? Maybe the wind often blows in a southerly or northerly direction in the place they got the google earth images, and the cows like to face it... or away from it.
     
  21. Aug 31, 2008 #20

    Moonbear

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    Yes, having been around quite a few cattle, that is the most likely explanation. On a calm day, the cattle will be standing in no particular direction pattern (unless they're all walking toward the food just put out). If the wind is blowing in a steady direction, they'll have more tendency to line up in the same direction as the wind to minimize the chill of the wind on them.
     
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