Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Can toads predict earthquakes?

Maybe. Consider: In 2009,
Dr Grant was studying toads 74km away in San Ruffino Lake in central Italy, when she recorded the toads behaving oddly.

Five days before the earthquake, the number of male common toads in the breeding colony fell by 96%.

That is highly unusual for male toads: once they have bred, they normally remain active in large numbers at breeding sites until spawning has finished.

Yet spawning had barely begun at the San Ruffino Lake site before the earthquake struck.
Also, no weather event could be linked to the toads' disappearance.

Three days before the earthquake, the number of breeding pairs also suddenly dropped to zero.
Some studies have been done on how domestic animals respond, but measuring the response of wild animals is more difficult.

Even those that have been shown to react, such as fish, rodents and snakes tend to do so shortly before an earthquakes strikes, rather than days ahead of the event.
For more, go here. (“Toads can 'predict earthquakes' and seismic activity”, Matt Walker, Editor, Earth News, BBC News, March 31, 2010)

So the toads have an early warning system, one that would be useful to know.

See also: Animal minds: Our dog’s world is not like ours

Humans project guilt feelings onto their dogs

and, of course, Oscar the Deathcat and “What is it like to be a bat?

Photo: Common toad (bufo bufo). Creative Commons License


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