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Science Hasn't Seen it All on Animal Perception

animal perception
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Tuesday, 06 August 2019 05:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Many species from tiny zooplankton, to fireworms, to great humpbacked whales synchronize their migrational movements, and in some cases in a rather convoluted way, attuned to length of day and night, moon phases, changes in latitude and season.

Ants and bees seem to use polarized solar light to memorialize where they’ve been and where they’re going as the Sun tracks across the sky — hence, their "beelines" straight back to short cut distances.

Sea turtles, trout, monarch butterflies, shrimp, lizards, dung beetles, lobsters, cuttlefish, frogs, desert spiders, crickets, underwing moths as well as many other creatures, possess some sort of internal compass as well.

Whales’ navigational prowess is one of marvelous accuracy. Humpbacks follow amazingly straight trajectories — actually, great circles, as it were, since the distances are so extreme— while battling currents, wind, storms, wending their way through underwater mountain ranges and yet deviating off-course almost never more than one degree.

How is this all managed?

Great scholars have wondered and written about that since Aristotle’s time, to include the philosopher himself. Since the time when humans became aware of magnetism and started using lodestones, the idea that animals may have built-in compasses shouldn’t have lagged too far behind.

Yet another past coterie of "settled scientists" convinced themselves and the world to the contrary, turning thumbs down on the theory of animals navigating by geomagnetism, and prior to the 1960s it was firmly catalogued away into the mainstream’s "pseudoscience" filing cabinet.

In 2019, however, animals’ ability to somehow read the Earth’s magnetic field is now regarded as the most probable answer to this age-old enigma.

The manner in which animals are able to accomplish this feat is yet a complete mystery. Whatever biological receptor or receptors — whether it be a distinct organ, or antennae so small as to be dispersed throughout the bodily tissues, or some other means — is unknown at present.

One of few plausible hypotheses centers on minute slivers of magnetite, iron crystals, infused at the cellular level, that may be used like tiny compasses to orient north and south.

Supposition, however, is what science has always used to make do concerning much of all the phyla of Earth’s creatures. The notion that everything is known about what animals can and can’t do is easily disproved by the fact that something new is being discovered all the time.

It’s well-known, for example, that whales have the stunning ability to communicate over the mind-boggling distances between oceans through infrasonic "songs."

Concerning elephants, first domesticated in India and working, battling, and transporting with and for mankind over the last four thousand years, it still wasn’t until very recently, the 1980s, that biologist Katy Payne discovered that elephants communicate in much the same way, sending their low-pitched rumbles through the pads of their feet, into the ground, and out into the surrounding savannah.

Even further beyond the realm of surety, there are possible electromagnetic, infrasonic and/or other waves or phenomena to which animals are seen to respond just prior to earthquakes.

Dr. Cristiano Fidani is a distinguished professor at the University of Perugia in Italy, attached to the Andrea Bina Seismic Observatory. Dr. Fidani is a physics laureate, holding a number of advanced degrees and prestigious awards.

He's the last person one would expect to repeat unconfirmed rumors from the paranormal spectrum.

Nonetheless, he recently sent me two papers he wrote concerning plausible animal perception of impending earthquakes.

Preceding the now infamous 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, "instances of strange animal behavior were observed which could support the hypotheses that they were induced by the physical presence of gas, electric charges and/or electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere."

In another paper, writing about a sequence of quite strong seismicity in the Umbria-Marche region of the Apennine Mountains of Central Italy in 1997, particular observations were made “of anomalous animal behavior, confirmed by many witnesses, and especially concerning a herd of cattle, which descended from a mountain close to a village near the epicenter."

There is no nation which has focused more intensely on determining what the potential might be for animal perception of impending earthquakes than China. The State Seismological Bureau of China has deemed the matter meriting of research over the last half century. They’ve lately arranged for cameras to be installed and trained on thousands of animals in zoos and parks throughout the country. Any anomalous animal behavior can be recorded and cross-checked with subsequent earthquakes striking.

The Chinese may or may not be wasting their money; many voices in American science consider China’s efforts here to be pointless. It is the U.S. however that owes China $1.1 trillion dollars, and not the other way around, so it’s possible they may in fact be on to something after all.

David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
 

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There is no nation which has focused more intensely on determining what the potential might be for animal perception of impending earthquakes than China. The State Seismological Bureau of China has deemed the matter meriting of research over the last half century.
china, earthquakes, laquila, bees
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2019-38-06
Tuesday, 06 August 2019 05:38 PM
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