Are animals really able to sense earthquakes before humans? It’s an age-old question that has captivated scientists for centuries. Recent research suggests that animals may indeed be able to detect powerful earthquakes before humans.
The Washington Post recently reported on a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria that killed more than 5,000 people. Social media users claimed that animals were behaving strangely just before the quake. While the Post could not immediately verify the footage, the idea that animals can detect earthquakes before humans has been around since ancient times.
Now, there is scientific research that supports the idea that animals are better equipped to sense tiny foreshocks traveling through the Earth seconds before more powerful earthquake waves barrel through. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, animals are able to feel the P wave seconds before the S wave arrives, due to the difference between two forms of seismic waves.
But can animals sense earthquakes even earlier, and better than modern machines? Martin Wikelski, a director at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, recently led a study to observe the movements of cows, dogs and sheep on an Italian farm over several months when earthquakes were detected nearby. The results suggested that animals may be able to detect earthquakes potentially more than 12 hours before humans – well before any foreshocks.
So, what is it that animals are sensing? Wikelski believes that their ability to sense danger may be related to their ability to communicate with each other. He also believes that animals may be able to detect earthquakes in advance up to 12 miles from their epicenter, and that they may be reacting to iron levels released in the air by underground pressure.
However, a 2018 review into 700 recorded claims of abnormal animal behavior before earthquakes called for more evidence before drawing conclusions. Much of the existing evidence was too anecdotal and retrospective to be reliable.
In this blog post, we take a look at the scientific research that suggests animals may be able to detect earthquakes before humans. We explore the difference between two forms of seismic waves and the potential reasons why animals may be able to sense danger before humans. We also discuss the need for more evidence before we can draw any conclusions. So, read on to find out more about this fascinating topic!